Second person cured of HIV in major medical breakthrough
Second person cured of HIV in major medical breakthrough
London HIV Patient World's Second To Be Cleared Of AIDS Virus: Doctors
07 March, 2019, 03:24
Tests found no trace of the virus - which causes Aids - more than 18 months after the man came off the antiretroviral drugs he was using to manage the condition.
"Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global priority, but is particularly hard because the virus integrates into the white blood cells of its host", said the study's lead author, Professor Ravindra Gupta from the University of Cambridge, who led the study while at UCL.
The researchers say it is too early to say the patient is "cured" of HIV.
Both the first patient to be cured of H.I.V., Timothy Ray Brown, who is now 52 and was cured in 2007, and the new patient, whom scientists refer to as the "London patient," were afflicted with forms of cancer and were given bone-marrow transplants meant to treat their cancers, not the H.I.V virus, according to The New York Times. He is still HIV-free.
Institutions involved in the case include Imperial College London, University College London, and Cambridge and Oxford University. The patient, who wishes to remain anonymous but is known as "the London patient", was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and developed Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the white blood cells, in 2012.
In 2016, when he was very ill with cancer, doctors chose to seek a transplant match for him.
Both the London and Berlin patients received stem celltransplants from donors carrying a genetic mutation that prevents expression of an HIV receptor, known as CCR5. Researchers are reporting a second patient has lived 18 months after stopping HIV treatment without sign of the virus following a stem-cell transplant.
Timothy Brown, said to be the first person to "beat" HIV/Aids, was given two transplants and total body irradiation (radiotherapy) for leukaemia - a much more aggressive treatment. The procedure is expensive, complex and risky.
Ravindra Gupta notes that the donor's unusual resistance to HIV may not be the only reason the treatment cleared the London patient's infection.
The case was published online by the journal Nature and will be presented at an HIV conference in Seattle. The first recipient, Timothy Brown, gained fame as the so-called Berlin patient after transplants in 2007 and 2008 rid him of HIV.
"If you are saying that bone marrow transplants are now going to be a viable way to cure large numbers of people with HIV in a scalable way, the answer to that is absolutely not", says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Stem cell transplants typically are harsh procedures which start with radiation or chemotherapy to damage the body's existing immune system and make room for a new one. There are complications too.
"But this is not applicable to the millions of people who don't need a stem cell transplant". That patient had a leukemia that could be treated with a blood stem-cell transplant, and his transplant team used cells that carried a mutation that eliminates one of the proteins that HIV uses to attach to cells.
Dr. Gero Hutter, the German doctor who treated Brown, called the new case "great news" and "one piece in the HIV cure puzzle".
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