International Collaboration to guide and investigate the potential for HIV cure by Stem Cell Transplantation

IciStem is a collaborative project to guide and investigate the potential for HIV cure in HIV-infected patients requiring allogeneic stem cell transplantation for hematological disorders.

The IciStem consortium is composed of an expert European review panel of hematologists with experience in allogeneic SCT procedures along with infectious disease specialists, virologist and immunologists with expertise in the field of HIV-1 tropism, reservoirs and cure.

We prospectively study allogeneic SCT recipients with HIV-1 infection, collecting complete information on underlying malignancy, chemotherapy, transplant procedure, donor selection, HIV-tropism, cART, and virological and immunological characteristics of a variety of samples before and after the transplant. 

IAS Cure Strategy

A new Cure strategy, developed by the International AIDS Society (IAS) was published on July 11th, 2016, in the journal Nature Medicine:

Consortium statement on treatment interruption

Successful treatment of HIV is the suppression of the virus in the blood as measured through blood tests. While the virus is suppressed in the blood - registering undetectable in blood tests - the virus remains in infected cells in a dormant state (the ‘viral reservoir’). When treatment is interrupted the virus usually rebounds in the blood to detectable levels within 2–3 weeks from the release of infectious virus from the viral reservoir. 

Treatment of HIV-patients has improved drastically over the past years, new developments are on the rise, and an HIV cure is gradually becoming a more realistic outcome. The only way to evaluate the effectiveness of a functional (virological control in the absence of antiretroviral therapy) or sterilizing (virus eradication) cure of HIV is to interrupt antiretroviral therapy (ART). 

ART interruption must only be performed in a controlled clinical setting with monitoring over time of the viral rebound and the ability for scientifically evaluation. 

Towards finding new strategies and a cure for HIV IciStem encourages and supports treatment interruption in a clinical setting with the consent of an HIV+ individual. IciStem strongly discourages treatment interruption in any uncontrolled setting. 

In choosing to participate in HIV scientific research HIV+ individuals should understand the risks of a viral rebound from their viral reservoir, which may lead to acute retroviral syndrome, increased risk of HIV transmission, accelerated disease progression, and the possible development of drug resistance.

The IciStem consortium respects and appreciates the risks HIV+ individuals are willing to take in helping us scientifically pursue cure research. IciStem consortium members strongly advise patients who are willing to interrupt/stop their treatment to discuss this with their clinician prior to interruption, and to only do it under medical/clinical supervision. If you do this in the IciStem consortium we will provide advice on when and how to proceed based on our evaluation of cure research protocol and actively partner with you towards minimizing the risks to you during treatment interruption.


Press releases

New York Times
Scientists have long tried to duplicate the procedure that led to the first long-term remission 12 years ago. With the so-called London patient, they seem to have succeeded. Read the full article here.

A step closer to an HIV cure. 
No rebound of HIV in two patients who stopped taking their HIV medication after stem cell transplantation for a hematological disease. Medical experts have found no evidence of an infectious virus for months in two HIV patients who stopped their antiviral medication. Both patients underwent stem cell transplantation as part of their cancer treatment. Read more here.


If you want to be kept updated on the IciStem project, you can subscribe to the newsletter here.

amfAR website

You can find a recent article about the IciStem project at the amfAR website.
Please click here for the link.

Recent presentations

2019 Miami Winter Symposium, 27-30 January 2019, Miami, USA
Presentation: Hematological stem cell therapy to cure HIV infection: So close, so far
Presentor: Javier Martinez-Picado
Date: January 28th, 2019

HIV DART and Emerging Viruses 2018, 27-29 November 2018, Miami, USA
Presentation: Potential for HIV cure by stem cell transplantation (IciStem)
Presentor: Monique Nijhuis
Date: November 27th, 2018

Mechanisms That Contribute to a Profound Reduction of the HIV-1 Reservoir After Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant
Salgado M, Kwon M, Gálvez C, Badiola J, Nijhuis M, Bandera A, Balsalobre P, Miralles P, Buño I, Martinez-Laperche C, Vilaplana C, Jurado M, Clotet B, Wensing A, Martinez-Picado J, Diez-Martin JL; IciStem Consortium.
Ann Intern Med. 2018 Nov 20;169(10):674-683. doi: 10.7326/M18-0759. Epub 2018 Oct 16

Development of sensitive ddPCR assays to reliably quantify the proviral DNA reservoir in all common circulating HIV subtypes and recombinant form
Bosman KJ, Wensing AM, Pijning AE, van Snippenberg WJ, van Ham PM, de Jong DM, Hoepelman AI, Nijhuis M
J Int AIDS Soc. 2018 Sep;21(9):e25185. doi: 10.1002/jia2.25185.

IAS AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam, 23-27 July 2018
Presentation: Stem Cell Transplantations: ICISTEM  
Presentor: Monique Nijhuis
Date: July 26th, 2018

IAS AIDS 2018 in Amsterdam, 23-27 July 2018
Presentation: Dominant HIV DNA populations present in different T-cell subsets before stem cell transplantation persist in tissues early after transplantation with CCR5Δ32 stem cells 
Presentor: Annemarie Wensing
Date: July 24th, 2018

National AIDS Conference, 25-27 May 2018, Jozefow, Poland
HIV cure: Utopia or reality?
Presentor: Annemarie Wensing
Date: May 25th, 2018

16th European Meeting on HIV & Hepatitis 2018, 30 May 2018 - 1 June 2018, Rome, Italy
Oral presentation: Dynamics of HIV DNA populations before and after transplantation with CCR5Δ32 stem cells
Presentor: Annemarie Wensing
Date: May 31st, 2018

44th Annual meeting of the EBMT, 18-20 March 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
HIV Status in long-term follow-up after allogeneic stem cell transplantation: "the Granada patients".
Presentor: Jon Badiola
Date: March 20th 2018

The IciStem project is supported by AmfAR Research Consortium on HIV eradication (ARCHE) Research Grant # 109293-59-RGRL