Daily Trends Now
Daily Trends Now

Second HIV patient is in long-term remission, a decade after the first

Second HIV patient is in long-term remission, a decade after the first

The donor - who was unrelated - had a genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta 32, which confers resistance to HIV. The patient remained on anti-HIV drugs to prevent the virus from replicating for almost 1.5 years after the transplant; because HIV tends to hide in cells in a dormant phase and reactivate years later, Gupta wanted to be sure that as much of the virus as possible was destroyed with the drugs.

Professor and HIV biologist, Ravindra Gupta, who was one of the lead doctors of the London patient explains that bone marrow transplant as a cure is hard, risky and expensive. Originally, the aim was to treat cancer-the patient was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2012-rather than HIV.

The London-based patient becomes the second individual ever to be seemingly cured of HIV over a decade after the first: Timothy Ray Brown, AKA the "Berlin patient," who nearly died after his treatment, according to The New York Times.

Also, the newly-transplanted cells were resistant to the virus.

The new patient has chosen to remain anonymous, and the scientists referred to him only as the "London patient".

"This is only going to work if someone has a virus that really only uses CCR5 for entry - and that's actually probably about 50 percent of the people who are living with HIV, if not less", said Dr Timothy J. Henrich, an AIDS specialist at the University of California, San Francisco.

"The cost benefit of the prognosis following a bone marrow transplant versus that on HIV antiretroviral therapy needs serious consideration", says Professor Anthony Kelleher, Director of the Kirby Institute at UNSW Sydney.

The London patient has not been identified.

The research team for the London patient will present their findings at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle, Washington, later on Tuesday.

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

There may be real hope for sufferers with AIDS; after twelve years, a second person has apparently been cured of H.I.V., the virus that precedes AIDS. Exact match donors would have to be found in the tiny proportion of people - a lot of them of northern European descent - who have the CCR5 mutation. The method used is said to be risky and costly, with both men having diseases that warranted stem-cell transplant: Mr. CCR5 is also the gene that Chinese researcher He Jiankui tweaked in embryos to give them a genetically-engineered resistance to HIV infection throughout their lifetimes. Today people can live normal lives with HIV and, as best as we can tell, live to a full age.

"While there are important limitations to applying this study to a HIV cure globally, this second documented case does reinforce the message that HIV cures are possible.

I think so." He says he believes that some HIV still remains in the London patient's body, but that because his immune system is now impervious to the virus, the HIV is marooned - like a castaway on a remote island who can not swim.

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

HIV has been cured in a second patient, researchers are reporting.

So far, its scientists are tracking 38 HIV-infected people who have received bone-marrow transplants, including six from donors without the mutation.

The only previous patient to be cured of the virus was Timothy Ray Brown, an American known as the "Berlin patient". Not until the world heard of how the London patient, who was - to a lesser degree than Brown - battling with cancer and the virus.


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