Second person cured of HIV in major medical breakthrough

The man's doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to the HIV virus

Researchers report that a man with HIV, dubbed the "London patient," appears to have been cured of the infection, following a bone marrow transplant.

The London Patient was given stem cells from a donor with genetic resistance to the disease.

The breakthrough comes ten years after the first such case of a patient with HIV going into sustained remission, known as the 'Berlin Patient'. The transplanted stem cells can also produce immune cells that go on to attack their new host, a problem called graft vs. host disease.

AIDS experts said the case is a proof of the concept that scientists will one day be able to end AIDS, and marks a "critical moment" in the search for an HIV cure, but does not mean that cure has already been found.

Researchers from eight countries are tracking 45 patients with cancer and HIV who have or will soon have stem cell transplants.

The donor was resistant because of a mutation in his CCR5 gene.

Two, the new bone marrow-which is where blood cells are made-is actively eliminating new HIV-infected cells.

Blood cells of an infected person are replaced by someone who is immune to HIV through a genetic mutation which stops the virus attaching to cells. The London patient, who had Hodgkin's lymphoma, is the first adult to be cleared of HIV since Brown.

Finally here is some good news for all the HIV positive patients living their lives in horror.

Both cases involved a risky procedure called a stem-cell transplant (otherwise known as a bone marrow transplant).

Dr. Gero Hütter, who treated the Berlin patient and is now medical director at Cellex Collection Center in Dresden, Germany, said in an email that the treatment used for the London patient is "comparable" to the one he pioneered.

Previous patient: This new study, reported in Nature, demonstrates that the previous case of Timothy Brown (aka the "Berlin patient") who was cured of HIV in 2007 through a similar treatment, was not an anomaly. However, because HIV remained undetectable, he is still considered clinically cured of his infection, according to his doctors.

AIDS researchers have known about the this CCR5 mutation for years and have tried to think of ways to exploit it as a treatment for HIV.

But a reservoir of cells carrying HIV can still remain in the body, in a resting state, for many years.

The Wall Street Journal noted, "Scientists are struggling to find a cure for HIV, a virus notorious for hiding in the body and evading attempts to flush it out".

But a very small number of people who are resistant to HIV have two mutated copies of the CCR5 receptor.

Gupta described his patient as "functionally cured" and "in remission", but cautioned, "It's too early to say he's cured". "Everybody believed after the Berlin patient that you needed to almost die basically to cure H.I.V., but now maybe you don't".

But in the case of the London patient, the treatment worked.

The "London patient" told the Times, "I feel a sense of responsibility to help the doctors understand how it happened so they can develop the science", adding that when he was apprised he might be cured it felt "surreal" and "overwhelming".



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