A University of Minnesota team performed an unprecedented transplant on Tuesday in an effort to cure a 12-year-old boy who has both HIV and leukemia.
Their potential solution: umbilical cord blood containing a protein known to protect a person against HIV.
The doctors who oversaw the procedure were John Wagner, a pediatric hematologist oncologist, and Michael Verneris, a pediatric blood and marrow transplant physician.
A similar procedure using bone marrow containing the protein was successful in an adult patient.
Verneris told MPR that the boy is still receiving anti-viral drugs for his HIV.
"Our plan right now is to continue him on his medications, and then as his new bone marrow starts working and repopulates a new immune system, we plan on removing those drugs somewhere around three months from now," Verneris said in a guest appearance on The Daily Circuit. "So hopefully in a couple months we'll be able to come back and let you know how it's gone in terms of that viral load, and we expect that we won't be able to detect it based on this other patient."
Verneris also said that doctors will be closely watching the boy's leukemia in the next two years, when it is most likely to recur.
Wagner, also a guest on The Daily Circuit, described the procedure.
"It went extraordinarily well," he said. "First off, after having three days of chemotherapy and four days of total body radiation, many patients at this particular point would be feeling quite ill. Not our patient. He was actually looking amazingly well, and the infusion of these cord blood stem cells went without any complication."