Cured: How the Berlin Patients Defeated HIV and Forever Changed Medical Science

Overview

Is the end of HIV upon us? Award-winning research scientist and HIV fellow at the Ragon Institute, Nathalia Holt, reveals the science behind the discovery of a functional cure and what it means for the millions affected by HIV and the history of the AIDS pandemic.

Two men, known in medical journals as the Berlin Patients, revealed answers to a functional cure for HIV. Their cures came twelve years apart, the first in 1996 and the second in 2008. Each received his own very ...

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Cured: How the Berlin Patients Defeated HIV and Forever Changed Medical Science

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Overview

Is the end of HIV upon us? Award-winning research scientist and HIV fellow at the Ragon Institute, Nathalia Holt, reveals the science behind the discovery of a functional cure and what it means for the millions affected by HIV and the history of the AIDS pandemic.

Two men, known in medical journals as the Berlin Patients, revealed answers to a functional cure for HIV. Their cures came twelve years apart, the first in 1996 and the second in 2008. Each received his own very different treatment in Berlin, Germany, and each result spurred a new field of investigation, fueling innovative lines of research and sparking hope for the thirty-four million people currently infected with HIV. For the first time, Nathalia Holt, who has participated in some of the most fruitful research in the field, tells the story of how we came to arrive at this astounding and controversial turning point.

Holt explores the two men’s stories on a personal level, looking at how their experiences have influenced HIV researchers worldwide—including one very special young family doctor who took the time to look closely at his patients—and how they responded to their medications.

Based on extensive interviews with the patients and their doctors as well as her own in-depth research, this book is an unprecedented look at how scientists pursue their inquiries, the human impact their research has, and what is and is not working in the relationship between Big Pharma and medical care.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/04/2013
HIV researcher Holt relates how two HIV-positive men together upended the treatment for the virus that causes AIDS, and helped save countless lives. The two “Berlin patients,” as they became anonymously known in medical literature—German-born Christian Hahn and American Timothy Brown—never knew each other. But in this accessible and fascinating account, Holt, a research scientist trained at MIT and Harvard, juggles genetic mysteries, research perils, the agonies of these two reserved and sensitive men diagnosed with what was considered a death sentence, and the dogged doctors who successfully treated them during the later stages of AIDS epidemic—Hahn, in 1996, with early drug therapy and an experimental cancer drug, and Brown, in 2008, with a stem-cell transplant. Holt’s narrative brings to light the remarkable early breakthroughs in treating a once fatal condition, but for the Berlin patients, “it wasn’t a cure that anyone would want.” By themselves, Holt notes, “the Berlin patient cases were anomalies... invitations to fulfill... the promise that HIV can be cured.” Their stories, however, are not just memorable for HIV patients, doctors and scientists, but for a society that believes in the importance of their struggles and hopes for their success. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Company. (Mar.)
Library Journal
09/15/2013
In a book bound to stir hope, interest, and debate, Holt, a research scientist specializing in HIV biology, discusses the science behind what appears to be a functional cure of HIV. At its heart: two men known as the Berlin Patients successfully treated in the German capital in 1996 and in 2002.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-09
A fascinating discourse on how medical science is zeroing in on an HIV vaccine after several anomalous triumphs. With the AIDS epidemic now in its fourth decade, award-winning HIV research scientist Holt believes "we are only just beginning to understand our shared evolution with viruses." Still, she offers increasing hope for a cure by spotlighting the two male "Berlin Patients" and several others, including a child, who chemically bombarded and expunged the HIV virus from their bodies. The author tracks the enduring histories of these men—German-born Christian Hahn and Timothy Brown, an American—from the detection of their initial viral prodromes to the astonishing depletion of HIV-infected cells from their bodies, prompting clinical trials and controversial research. Holt also profiles HIV specialists Heiko Jessen, Bruce Walker and David Ho as part of a frustrated yet galvanized group of professionals working toward developing new therapies to either counterbalance HIV's onslaught on a vulnerable immune system or, ideally, discover a way to have the virus coexist with its human host. The author includes research that field experts consider "pertinent and exciting," and the result makes for educative, thought-provoking and frequently alarming reading. Textbook descriptions on the intricacies of HIV's tactical viral transmission commingle with a timeline spanning from an era when a seropositive test result equaled a sure death sentence. The author also examines controversial trials of AZT drug therapies, stem cell transplants, and the genetic suppression and inexplicable eradication of the virus from a fortunate few. Holt further supports her subject with graphic illustrations and a well-balanced assortment of interviews and opinions from doctors, genetic scientists and informed researchers, all unified in the global battle to find a cure. An astute AIDS retrospective blended with contemporary updates on aggressive medical strategies.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525953920
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/27/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 348,343
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Nathalia Holt is an award-winning research scientist specializing in HIV biology. Her research has led to major developments in the HIV gene therapy field.  She has trained at the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard University, the University of Southern California and Tulane University. She lives with her husband and their daughter in Boston, Massachusetts.

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