A Cure for HIV/AIDS: Recent Breakthroughs and New Research Frontiers


amfAR Briefing Highlights Advances and Challenges in Cure Research

“Eradicating AIDS and finding a cure is the moonshot of our generation,” said Dr. Susan Blumenthal, Senior Policy and Medical Advisor at amfAR and Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General, who organized and moderated an amfAR-sponsored Capitol Hill briefing on HIV cure research in Washington, D.C., this summer.

With these words, Dr. Blumenthal brought to a close an engrossing program that had begun with renowned broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff interviewing Timothy Brown, the “Berlin Patient,” the first and only person known to be cured of HIV.  While on treatment for HIV, Brown was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006. For the stem-cell transplant he needed, his physician, Dr. Gero Hütter, was able to locate a donor among the one percent of people born with a genetic mutation making them resistant to HIV. People in this group lack the CCR5 receptor, which is the primary means by which most strains of HIV infect cells.

Dr. Paula Cannon, Dr. Keith R. Jerome, Dr. Peter Hunt, and Dr. Robert Siliciano at the U.S. Senate.

Following the transplant, Mr. Brown was able to stop HIV treatment without experiencing a return of his HIV virus and he no longer tests positive for the virus. His case provides the first proof of concept for a cure for HIV and has been the impetus for scientists and donors to begin working together toward a research goal once thought impossible.

amfAR has been funding cure research for more than a decade, and in 2010 launched the amfAR Research Consortium on HIV Eradication (ARCHE).  As Dr. Rowena Johnston, the Foundation’s Vice President and Director of Research, said during the briefing, “We will leave no stone unturned.  The strength of the amfAR model is to bring researchers together to exchange ideas.” amfAR announced another set of ARCHE grants in June.

During the briefing a panel of four scientists discussed their research…


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