HIV Cure: Berlin Patient Timothy Ray Brown


Timothy Ray Brown, the so-called "Berlin patient," is the first and so far only person cured of AIDS. He developed leukemia and had to undergo chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant, which first destroyed his immune system, then gave him a new one.

His doctor searched for and found a one-in-a million match of a bone marrow donation that also contained the rare genetic mutation (ccr532). Persons with that mutation lack the receptor on the cell surface that HIV uses to enter the cell. The transplant took and Brown's new immune system seems to be impervious to infection by the virus.

He announced formation of the Timothy Brown Foundation, on July 24, to "fight for an innovative cure." He criticized the NIH for not being willing to take risks in funding new approaches.

The foundation, at least initially, will not conduct its own research but will offer grants to those who do. Beyond that the organizers were vague on structure, process, how it would acquire money, and why contributions should be funneled through it rather than other groups supporting cure research such as the long-established American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR).

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