How Close to a Cure for AIDS?

December 1, 2011 | by

Photo of John Rossi

John Rossi (Photo by Paula Myers)

December 1 is World AIDS Day, and 2011 marks 30 years since doctors diagnosed the first cases of AIDS.

HIV/AIDS expert John J. Rossi, Ph.D., Lidow Family Research Chair in City of Hope’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, spoke with Breakthroughs about advancements made in the last three decades — and prospects for a cure.

How much progress has been made in the past 30 years against HIV/AIDS?

We have had great improvements in outcomes, and in reducing the viral load in the bodies of HIV-infected people. As good as that is, if people stop taking the drugs, the virus still comes back. So now we need to start thinking about not just treatment, but a cure.

Is a cure for AIDS possible?

There is one patient who has been cured of AIDS. He is called “the Berlin Patient,” because he was treated in Berlin, though he is an American. The patient received a bone marrow transplant from a donor under a unique set of circumstances. We can’t apply that specific treatment to the entire world, but we are developing techniques to go after virally infected cells.

Will this treatment become available soon?

There’s not going to be one “boom” in people being cured. There may be one person a year, but once new processes are developed, we may be able to cure thousands of people a year. That is slow progress – but six years ago we thought that no one could be cured.

Over the years there’s been a great deal of talk about a vaccine to prevent HIV infection. What’s the status of vaccine research?

I don’t see a vaccine for HIV happening. The research has encountered too many problems. Gene therapy offers more sophisticated tools.

What research is under way at City of Hope?

In an article in Science Translational Medicine earlier this year, we detailed our successful efforts in a unique, first-in-human gene therapy approach targeting HIV. It marks the first successful, long-term persistence of anti-HIV genes in patients with AIDS-related lymphoma. This is a very promising line of research that could lead to new treatment paradigms.

Will there eventually be a widespread cure for AIDS?

The Berlin Patient has set the precedent: If you eradicate virus from the patient, you cure the patient. So we are developing “smart bombs” that help kill HIV. We may use T cells that have been gene-modified for this purpose. We may even be able to put protective genes into a patient’s own cells. I now envision AIDS as a disease we will successfully combat — like we have successfully combated smallpox and polio. I believe that is possible.

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  • Anderson

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  • Anderson

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  • Anderson

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  • Anderson

    I was been suffering hardship from HIV/AIDS since 2yrs now, and i happen to have 2 kids for my husband, and now we cannot proceed to have another kids all because of my disease and now i have do all what a human like i and my husband can do just to get my disease healed, i have went to several places to seek for help not even one person could ever help, until i melt a comment on the daily news paper that was commented by Miss Marilyn about how this powerful traditional doctor help her get cured of the disease (HIV-AIDS) ” my fellow beloved” i firstly taught having a help from a spiritual traditional healer was a wrong idea, but i think of these, will i continue to stress on these disease all day when i have someone to help me save my life?” so i gather all my faiths and put in all interest to contact him through his Email address at so after i have mailed him of helping get my disease cured, i respond to me fast as possible that i should not be afraid, that he is a truthful and powerful doctor which i firstly claimed him to be. So after all set has been done, he promise me that i will be healed but on a condition that i provide him some items and obeyed all his oracle said. I did all by accepting his oracolous fact and only to see that the following week Dr fadeyi mail me on my mail box that my work is successfully done with his powers, i was first shocked and later arise to be the happiest woman on earth after i have concluded my final test on the hospital by my doctor that i am now HIV- Negative. My papers for check are with me and now i am happy and glad for his miraculous help and power. With these i must to everyone who might seek for any help, either for HIV cure or much more to contact him now at these following email now,Email: ” sir thank you so much for your immediate cure of my disease, i must say for curing my disease, i owe you in return. Thanks and be blessing sir. His Email address is:

  • Anderson

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