London Patient Might be Second-Ever Cured of HIV

London Patient Might be Second-Ever Cured of HIV

London Patient Might be Second-Ever Cured of HIV

The study's head author issued a statement and 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".

Both patients received stem cell transplants from donors carrying a genetic mutation that prevents expression of an HIV receptor, known as CCR5. Timothy Brown, an American man, was known as "the Berlin patient" when he also received a bone marrow transplant for leukemia treatment in Germany 12 years ago. That's key because HIV uses that receptor to gain entry into the cells.

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.

In the meantime, he said the focus needed to be on diagnosing HIV promptly and starting patients on lifelong combination antiretroviral therapy. After 18 months off the drugs, there was still has no trace of HIV, the AP reported. Unlike Brown, the London patient has not yet undergone testing for residual HIV in his gut and other tissues.

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"If we can understand better why the procedure works in some patients and not others, we will be closer to our ultimate goal of curing HIV". The researchers expand the modified cells and then reinfuse them into their patients with the hope that they will engraft and populate the blood. On top of this, drug-resistant strains of HIV continue to surface, throwing a wrench in current formulations.

Some 37 million people worldwide are now infected with HIV and the AIDS pandemic has killed around 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s.

Gupta and his team emphasised that bone marrow transplant - a unsafe and painful procedure - is not a viable option for HIV treatment. People who have two mutated copies of the CCR5 allele are resistant to the HIV-1 virus strain that uses this receptor, as the virus can not enter host cells.

To learn more about the factors that favor a cure, amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, a New York City-based foundation, in 2014 began to fund a consortium of global researchers who do transplants in HIV-infected people with blood cancers.

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While this new patient might not unlock the cure to a disease that has killed millions of people, it does give hope to researchers that it is possible in some circumstances.

Unlike for Brown, radiotherapy wasn't required and the London patient experienced far less severe consequences than Brown, but Gupta believes the chemotherapy used against the lymphoma was an essential part of its success, temporarily destroying fast-dividing cells so replacement could occur. That transplant also appeared to clear his HIV infection. He was called the "Berlin patient" and was later identified as Timothy Ray Brown.

While some commentators are calling this a "cure" for HIV, the scientists who performed the experiment say it's too soon to say that.

Just like the first instance, this cure also resulted from a bone-marrow transplant. Specifically, the donor had a mutation in a gene that codes for a protein called CCR5, which HIV uses as a "port" to get inside cells.

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Anton Pozniak, president of the International AIDS Society (IAS) said the announcement "reaffirms our belief that there exists a proof of concept that HIV is curable".

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