HIV-infected man to receive baboon's bone marrow Controversial transplant may help ward off AIDS

October 08, 1995|By SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The University of California at San Francisco has given the green light to a controversial experiment in which a man will be injected with bone marrow from a baboon in the hope the animal's immune system will help him fight the AIDS virus.

Clearance by medical committees evaluating the safety and ethics of the experiment means that preparations can begin for the procedure on volunteer Jeff Getty, a 38-year-old Oakland AIDS activist who has battled critics and the Food and Drug Administration to win approval for the test.

"I'm lucky to have made it this far," said Mr. Getty. "The wait has been unbelievable."

It has been 18 months since doctors sought approval to test the treatment, which is based on the discovery that a baboon's immune system is somehow able to fight off HIV, the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome in humans.

Researchers will glean from the baboon marrow a small quantity of "stem cells," the master blood cells of the immune system from which the components of the body's disease-fighting defenses are derived. If these cells are not rejected by Mr. Getty's biological defenses, the baboon marrow will serve as a kind of auxiliary immune system that, in theory, might shield him from the AIDS virus just as it does for baboons.

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