Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Features

March 11, 2014

Hope for HIV babies

Doctors hope for cure in a 2nd baby born with HIV

(Continued)

The LA baby was born at Miller Children's Hospital Long Beach, and "we knew this mother from a previous pregnancy" and that she was not taking her HIV medicines, said Dr. Audra Deveikis, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the hospital.

The mom was given AIDS drugs during labor to try to prevent transmission of the virus, and Deveikis started the baby on them a few hours after birth. Tests later confirmed she had been infected, but does not appear to be now, nearly a year later.

The baby is continuing treatment, is in foster care "and looking very healthy," Bryson said.

The Mississippi girl was treated until she was 18 months old, when doctors lost contact with her. Ten months later when she returned, they could find no sign of infection even though the mom had stopped giving her AIDS medicines.

Bryson is one of the leaders of a federally funded study just getting underway to see if very early treatment can cure HIV infection. About 60 babies in the U.S. and other countries will get very aggressive treatment that will be discontinued if tests over a long time, possibly two years, suggest no active infection.

"These kids obviously will be followed very, very closely" for signs of the virus, said Persaud, who described the LA case at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

The study in adults was prompted by an AIDS patient who appears cured after getting a cell transplant seven years ago in Berlin from a donor with natural immunity to the virus. Only about 1 percent of people have two copies of the gene that gives this protection, and researchers have been seeking a more practical way to get similar results.

HIV usually infects blood cells through a protein on their surface called CCR5. A California company, Sangamo BioSciences Inc., makes a treatment that can knock out a gene that makes CCR5.

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