May 22, 2019

London patient may be second person to be cured of HIV

07 March 2019, 05:39 | Silvia Roy

London patient may be second person to be cured of HIV

London patient may be second person to be cured of HIV

A London patient has become the second known man worldwide to be cleared of AIDS virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor, according to his doctor. Researchers reportedly say that it is too early, however, to say the patient has been fully cured.

This patient now joins Timothy Ray Brown aka the "Berlin patient" who was treated in Germany for HIV in 2002 and was also cured of the virus.

Indeed, some patients have had remission even without a bone-marrow transplant. That same year, he developed Hodgkin lymphoma and was treated with stem cell transplant for the cancer in 2016.

The CCR5 gene, and the eponymous cell it codes for, nearly certainly play a crucial role in the collateral HIV cure. Medical advances mean tests can detect HIV early, new drugs can control it, and there are ways to stop it spreading - but 37 million people still live with the virus.

There is now no cure, and UNAIDS is working to ensure that all people living with and affected by HIV have access to life-saving HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services.

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Chemotherapy can be effective against HIV as it kills cells that are dividing. The incoming transplanted donor-immune cells seek out and destroy all the host's immune cells - including those in which HIV can hide out, he said.

Speaking about the study, lead author Ravindra Gupta said, "By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people".

Since the pandemic began in the 1980s, more than 70 million people have been infected with HIV and about 35 million have died, most in Africa. His immune cells also remain unable to express the CCR5 receptor.

Compared to Brown, the first H.I.V. -positive individual to enter long-term remission, the London patient has responded relatively well to his transplant.

But such transplants are complex, expensive and highly risky to the patients, who would run a risk of dying in the process.

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They made the announcement at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) being held in Seattle, United States of America.

"In the second theory, you are mixing two immune systems, with your new immune system reacting against your original one", Lewin said.

The anonymous "London patient" has been free of HIV for longer than the Dusseldorf case.

According to Gupta, the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies.

Timothy Brown, the "Berlin patient", was given two transplants and underwent total body irradiation to treat leukaemia, while the British patient received just one transplant and less intensive chemotherapy.

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"Although this breakthrough is complicated and much more work is needed, it gives us great hope for the future that we could potentially end AIDS with science, through a vaccine or a cure", said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

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