Thursday, 21 March, 2019

‘London patient’ is world’s second ever in HIV remission

A nurse hands out a red ribbon to a woman to mark World Aids Day A nurse hands out a red ribbon to a woman to mark World Aids Day
Celia Hoffman | 07 March, 2019, 17:41

Although the news of a second person being cured of HIV through stem cell transplant is exciting and may pave the way for future treatments, experts say the treatment may not work in case of all patients infected with the AIDS causing virus. In 2016, he underwent hematopoietic stem cell transplant from a donor who happens to have a genetic mutation that prevents expression of the HIV receptor CCR5. Too Early To Confirm Patient Is Cured Regular tests confirmed the viral load of the patient is undetectable.

In order to achieve that serendipitous "cure", Brown had to undergo aggressive treatment for his acute myeloid leukemia that involved two hematopoietic stem cell transplantations - in which a patient's bone marrow is damaged - and full body irradiation.

The London patient contracted HIV in 2003 and was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin's Lymphoma, according to Gupta. "The hope is that lessons can be learned to help develop more widely applicable therapeutic approaches for attaining HIV remissions or cures". Most HIV uses both the CD4 and CCR5 receptor to enter a person's immune cells.

Close to 37 million people are living with HIV worldwide, but only 59 percent are receiving ARV.

Chemotherapy can be effective against HIV as it kills cells that are dividing. "There are similarities with the Berlin Patient case, but there are also differences", Lewin added.

Globally, 36.9 million people were living with HIV in 2017. 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. In all other attempts, the virus had come back after the patient stopped anti-HIV medication. Under normal circumstances, the CCR5 gene in question acts like a key of sorts, enabling H.I.V.to penetrate and infect humans' immune cells. 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. "I never thought that there would be a cure during my lifetime".

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A person recognized exclusively because the "London affected person" seemed to be cured of H.I.V., making him the second recognized affected a person in practically 12 years, giving scientists new hope that an eventual treatment is feasible, studies stated Monday.

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

The patient, known only as "London patient" reportedly prefers to remain anonymous.

According to Gupta, the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies. Their immune system appears to be successful in controlling the virus, even without drugs.

Mark Dybul, Co-Chair of the Towards an HIV Cure initiative, said in spite of the great success of ART, there remains a high need for a cure for HIV, especially in low-income settings.

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