A Second Person May Be Cured of HIV

A Second Person May Be Cured of HIV

"My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years", Trump said in his February address.

The stem cells used for the transplant came from a donor who had a relatively rare genetic mutation that confers resistance to HIV.

Although the patient has been in remission for 18 months, the authors of the British study published on Tuesday in the science journal Nature cautioned it was too early to say he had been cured.

That was "an improbable event", said lead researcher Ravindra Gupta of University College London. But HIV drugs have become so effective that many people carrying this infection have a normal lifespan if they take these medications for a lifetime.

CNN reports that the London patient, who has chosen anonymity, was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and began taking antiretroviral drugs nine years later. Later, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma.

But there was something unusual about the person who gave the London patient stem cells.

In both instances, the HIV-infected patient was treated using bone-marrow transplants that were actually created to treat cancer patients and not HIV.

Ten years ago, another patient in Berlin received a bone-marrow transplant from a donor with natural immunity to the virus.

But future therapies could aim to mimic the treatment without the need for a bone-marrow transplant.

Today, people with HIV are able to live essentially virus-free with a minimally disruptive regimen of pills. However, because HIV remained undetectable, he is still considered clinically cured of his infection, according to his doctors.

These findings demonstrate that "the Berlin patient was not an anomaly", the researchers said.

"I never thought that there would be a cure during my lifetime", he said. More recently, researchers reported that a bone marrow transplant recipient in Minnesota had viral remission lasting almost 10 months after an analytic treatment interruption, but he too ultimately experienced viral rebound. He notes that the Berlin patient and the London patient had similar side effects after the treatment.

While the investigators are calling this a "long-term remission" rather than a "cure", others are using the C word.

Twelve years ago, Timothy Brown - initially called the "Berlin patient" before he made a decision to go public - had this transplant and has been clear of HIV ever since.

The research was funded by Wellcome, the Medical Research Council, the Foundation for AIDS Research, and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centres at University College London Hospitals, Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial.

"This is a long time to be in remission off ART, so this is exciting", infectious diseases expert Sharon Lewin from the University of Melbourne, who wasn't involved with the study, explains.

"There are actually many strategies right now that are currently being pursued", Henrich said.

After news of the first "Berlin patient" broke at the same Seattle Conference in 2007, scientists have been trying hard to replicate the results in other HIV-infected patients.

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