British Man Becomes Second Person Ever To Be Cleared Of HIV

British Man Becomes Second Person Ever To Be Cleared Of HIV

The latest case was in an HIV-positive patient with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma who received a transplant of hematopoietic stem cells from a donor with two copies of the so-called CCR5 gene mutation - the same one allegedly edited by He Jiankui that led to the birth of the world's first gene-edited babies previous year.

The man, who has been HIV positive since at least 2003, now appears to have had the virus driven from his system by a very special genetic mutation present in the stem cells of a donor.

Now, an global team of scientists led by Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University College London, reports a second patient has been in remission for three years following a similar procedure. The London patient has been in remission for 18 months since he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.

The London patient, who has chosen to remain anonymous, told The New York Timesin an email that learning that his cancer treatment could also cure his HIV infection was "surreal" and "overwhelming".

Unlike Brown, though, the London patient did not have to go through a horrific, near-death experience to reap the benefits of the therapy. Later, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Professor Eduardo Olavarria from Imperial College London, who worked on the case, noted that the success of stem cell transplantation offers "hope in the search for a long-awaited cure for HIV/Aids".

"By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach we have shown that the Berlin patient was..." "It's too early to say he's cured", he said. "We can't detect anything", Ravindra Gupta, the doctor who co-lead the man's treatment team, told Reuters.

"Its effectiveness underlines the importance of developing new strategies based on preventing CCR5 expression", said co-author Ian Gabriel, of the Imperial College NHS Trust.

Despite efforts to replicate the remarkable Berlin results, researchers had failed for a decade - in part because the possibility of doing such transplants is rare. If the treatment is successful, the patient's body uses the other person's stem cells to build a healthy immune system.

AIDS-Cure Research
Timothy Ray Brown known as the ‘Berlin Patient, was the first person to be cured of HIV infection

The therapy had an early success with Timothy Ray Brown, a USA man treated in Germany who is 12 years post-transplant and still free of HIV.

The treatment is risky, complex and expensive, researchers have said. Scientists have wondered, however, whether this good fortune could be shared around by injecting stem cells from people with two Δ32 copies into HIV patients.

Timothy Brown, the first man to have once had HIV and then not, thanks to medicine.

As with cancer, chemotherapy can be effective against HIV as it kills cells that are dividing.

"Two factors are likely at play - the new bone marrow is resistant to HIV and also the new bone marrow is actively eliminating any HIV-infected cells through something called graft versus host disease".

Computer illustration of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) particle.

To test whether he was truly in HIV-1 remission, the London patient disrupted his usual antiretroviral therapy.

There are important limitations to applying the findings of the London patient to a HIV cure, said Anthony Kelleher, director of the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Sydney.

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