• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Doctors 'cure' HIV patient with blood transplant

The Local · 6 Nov 2014, 17:00

Published: 06 Nov 2014 17:00 GMT+01:00

A 37-year-old man from Barcelona, who had been infected with the HIV virus in 2009, was cured of the condition after receiving a transplant of blood from such an umbilical cord.

Unfortunately, the man died of cancer having developed lymphoma in 2012, but the Spanish medical team involved is still hugely encouraged by what it considers to be a breakthrough in the fight against HIV and related conditions, Spanish daily El Mundo reported on Thursday.

Doctors in Barcelona initially attempted the technique using the precedent of Timothy Brown, an HIV patient who developed leukaemia before receiving experimental treatment in Berlin. 

Brown was given bone marrow from a donor who were carried the resistance mutation from HIV.

The CCR5 Delta 35 mutation affects a protein in white blood cells, and provides an estimated one percent of the human population with high resistance to infection from HIV. After the cancer treatment, the HIV virus had also disappeared.           

In the case of the so-called 'Barcelona patient', doctors had already tried to treat his lymphoma with chemotherapy as well as an auto-transplant of stem cells. They looked for a suitable bone marrow donor but could not find one, so they turned to another answer.

"We suggested a transplant of blood from an umbilical cord but from someone who had the mutation because we knew from 'the Berlin patient' that as well as causing the cancer, we could also eradicate HIV," explained Rafael Duarte, the director of the Haematopoietic Transplant Programme at the Catalan Oncology Institute in Barcelona.

Before a transplant of this nature, a patient’s blood cells are destroyed with chemotherapy before they are replaced with new cells, incorporating the mutation which means the HIV virus can no longer attach itself to them.

Story continues below…

In this case, the medical team used stem cells from another donor to accelerate the regeneration process.  

Just 11 days after the transplant, the patient in Barcelona experienced recovery and three months on it was found that he no longer had the HIV virus in his body. Despite the patient’s unfortunate death from cancer, the process has now opened the way to an ambitious project, with the backing of Spain’s National Transplant Organisation. The world’s first clinical trials of umbilical cord blood transplants for HIV patients with blood cancers will start in March 2015.  

Javier Martínez, a virologist from the Irsicaixa research foundation, stressed that the programme is designed to help first and foremost HIV patients suffering from cancer, but "this therapy does allow us to speculate about a cure for HIV," he added.   

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.es)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Spanish court bars top Eta figure from Basque elections
The Basque separatist leader in San Sebastian. Photo: AFP

Arnaldo Otegi, once jailed for terrorism charges, has been barred from standing in Basque elections.

Spanish town warns against texting while crossing roads
The warnings now appear at crossings in Talavera de la Reina in Spain.

It might seem entirely obvious to most, but it seems some people need to be told that looking at your phone while crossing a busy road can prove dangerous.

Police launch appeal for Costa Blanca hit and run driver
Photo: N332 /@drivingSpain/facebook

Do you recognise this car?

What political deadlock? Spain economy forges ahead
Rajoy is struggling to form a government. Photo: AFP

Eight months without a government but is Spain really the worse for it?

Ten fascinating museums in Spain you REALLY must visit
The innovative NMAC foundation in southern Spain's Cádiz province features contemporay art in a former military installation. Photo: Guillermo Varela

To mark International Museum Day, The Local takes a look at ten museums in Spain, you may not have visited. But should.

True cost of Spain's balcony-jumping craze revealed
A tourist leaping into a swimming pool. Screen grab: YouTube

They're young, on holiday, drunk and sometimes high, and they decide to jump from their hotel or apartment balcony into the pool. But some miss and end up in hospital... or worse, dead.

Weather
Spain sizzles in last heatwave of the summer
Photo: AFP

There is still time to work on your tan, enjoy refreshing gazpacho, or head for the pool.

Ibiza flight scare after police officer accidentally fires gun
The incident happened on a Vueling flight from Ibiza to Madrid. Photo: AFP

A police officer’s gun accidentally fired in the cabin of a Vueling passenger jet on the runway at Ibiza causing alarm among passengers.

Travel
Off the beaten track: 14 best kept travel secrets in Spain
Spain has some amazing spots like Las Medulas gold mine. Photo: Jonathan Pincas/Flickr

Spain has so much to see off the beaten track so why not take the road less travelled and discover a few hidden gems?

The Local List
Ten brilliantly useful words English 'stole' from Spanish
There would be no macho men if it wasn't for Spanish. Photo: Ryan Gesner

The Local looks at ten fantastic words the English language 'borrowed' from Spanish — and won't be giving back.

Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
International
'We won't ban burqinis on our beaches' insists Barcelona
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Recipe: How to make Andalusian Ajo Blanco soup
Travel
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Travel
Ten touristy types you'll meet in Spain: Which one are you?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Lifestyle
Ten top tips to avoid looking like a guiri when in Spain
International
Don't miss this spectacular meteor shower over Spain
Travel
Desperate Ryanair passenger chases after missed flight
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Travel
What's on in Spain: August 2016
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Get your kit off! Spain's ten best nudist beaches
National
German firestarter blames blaze on 'toilet paper mishap'
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
National
Flashmob prank sparks 'terror attack' panic in Spanish resort
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
Croquemon Go: Spain invents twist on game to 'eat 'em all'
Technology
Six free apps to simplify your summer in Spain
National
Spanish parents fight for right to name their son 'Wolf'
National
Beach closed after shark attack in southern Spain
National
Spain ups security at tourist spots as terrorism fears grow
National
Ten great reasons to discover the real Malaga right now
Lifestyle
The good, bad and the ugly of long distance relationships
National
7 reasons why grandparents in Spain are simply the best
Travel
Barcelona bans Segways from tourist clogged waterfront
National
Spain pays €300m each year in pensions… to dead people
National
Police issue guidelines as Pokémon craze sweeps Spain
National
Another dodgy art restoration raises alarm in Spain
3,219
jobs available