Game of Receptors: How We Cured AIDS

Everybody has heard about The Berlin Patient: the first man to be cured of AIDS. But you should also know the doctor behind the cure, the pioneer behind the novel procedure: Prof. Gero Hütter. Being an important figure in the field of hematology, Prof. Hütter’s areas of research also include oncology, infectious diseases, stem cells and HIV. Prof. Hütter made history by performing a bone marrow transplant on the leukemic and HIV infected patient, thus curing him of the latter illness. 

The procedure involved a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta 32 that results in missing CCR5 co-receptors on T cells. These co-receptors are the gateway most types of HIV use to infect cells. By essentially replacing the patient’s immune system with one resistant to HIV, Prof. Hütter aimed to eradicate the virus from the body entirely. Although the treatment was not without its risks and hardships, it proved to be successful. In the years that followed, the Berlin Patient remained free of HIV without the need for antiretroviral therapy.


Gero Hütter

Prof. Gero Hütter is recognised worldwide for being the first to cure AIDS. For his groundbreaking discovery, he was named to be one of the “Berliners of The Year” in 2008. In 2009, he became the head of the stem cell unit of the Institute of Transfusion Medicine and Immunology Mannheim of the Heidelberg University. He currently holds the position of Medical Director at the DKMS Collection Center. 

Prof. Hütter has received a number of awards, including the Chugai Science Award in 2009, the Certificate of Honor offered by the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco in 2010 and the Reminders Day Award in 2013.