Second Patient Cleared of the Virus That Causes AIDS

Grant Boone
March 6, 2019

Today, researchers are reporting the second instance in which the transplantation of stem cells carrying this mutation has seemingly eliminated a viral infection.

HIV was once thought to be incurable and while doctors say it is too early to make the final call, they are hopeful the man is cured.

"The London Patient", as he is known, had a form of blood cancer that was not responding to chemotherapy and underwent a bone marrow transplant which required a replenishment of white blood cells via stem cells. Brown was treated using stem cells, effectively transplanting his immune system, because he had an unrelated cancer, and the chemotherapy was interfering with the antiretroviral drugs that had previously controlled his infection.

He has now been in remission for 18 months after his antiretroviral drugs were discontinued, researchers said.

Adalja noted that although the Berlin patient and the London patient received similar treatments, the Berlin patient's treatment was more intense - he received two bone-marrow transplants in addition to whole-body irradiation (radiation exposure to the whole body).

"By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach we have shown that the Berlin patient was..."

In addition to being cured of HIV, he was also cured of Hodgkin's lymphoma, by receiving a bone-marrow transplant from the donor with the gene mutation. He will continue to monitor the man's condition, as it is still too early to say, officially, that he has been cured of HIV.

The vast majority of HIV virus strains use the CCR5 molecule, or receptor, as the port of entry into human cells.

New Delhi is worlds most polluted capital, Beijing eighth
Gurugram led the most polluted cities in the world in 2018, with Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida, and Bhiwadi in the top six worst-affected cities.

But there was something unusual about the person who gave the London patient stem cells.

Specialists said it is also not yet clear whether the CCR5 resistance is the only key - or whether the graft-versus-host disease may have been just as important. 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.

Around 37 million people worldwide are believed to be living with HIV, which could potentially develop into the life-threatening acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

This is the second time a patient treated this way has ended up in remission from HIV.

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. There are similarities with the Berlin Patient case, but there are also differences".

The latest case "shows the cure of Timothy Brown was not a fluke and can be recreated", said Dr. Keith Jerome of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who had no role. But doctors cautioned against calling the patient's results a cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The man, who has been HIV positive since at least 2003, now appears to have had the virus driven from his system by a very special genetic mutation present in the stem cells of a donor.

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