Amidst all the economic tumult, a medical revolution is quietly unfolding, moving us a step closer to the age of genetic therapies, a step beyond the era of pharmacology and ever closer to cures for scourges like HIV/AIDs. A new study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine offers compelling new evidence that future gene therapies may offer a cure for HIV.
The study follows a two-year remission of an HIV infected man after having been given a bone marrow transplant to treat an onset of leukaemia. This case represents the first strategic use of therapy to achieve sustained HIV remission. While an accompanying editorial in NEJM stresses this breakthrough does not represent a cure in and of itself, it does herald the promise of one based on gene mutations (CCR5) that have been proven to confer protection against HIV.
What remains to be seen is how quickly these medical possibilities can be translated into therapeutic realities, and that, of course, brings us right back to the economic tumult.