British man with HIV becomes second person ever to enter remission

Grant Boone
Марта 7, 2019

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

He was then treated with radiation and chemotherapy in order to erase his immune system so it could be reconstituted with donated stem cells taken from a donor who was immune to HIV.

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

The case report, carried out by researchers at UCL and Imperial College London, together with teams at the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, comes ten years after the first such case, known as the 'Berlin Patient'. Individuals with 2 copies of this genetic mutation are resistant to HIV infection, as the mutation prevents expression of the virus.

The patient asked to remain anonymous and is referred to as the "London patient".

The London Patient was given stem cells from a donor with genetic resistance to the disease.

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Gupta described his patient as "functionally cured" and "in remission", but cautioned: "It's too early to say he's cured". "Everybody believed after the Berlin patient that you needed to almost die basically to cure HIV, but now maybe you don't". To do this in others, exact match donors would have to be found in the tiny proportion of people - majority of northern European descent - who have the CCR5 mutation that makes them resistant to the virus.

The report describes a male patient in the United Kingdom, who prefers to remain anonymous, and was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and on antiretroviral therapy since 2012. And now, a year and a half after he last took antiretroviral medications, the London patient is no longer showing signs of the virus. To do this in others, exact match donors would have to be found in the tiny proportion of people - majority of northern European descent - who have the CCR5 mutation that makes them resistant to the virus.

"I think this does change the game a little bit", Gupta added. Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson speaks with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The cancer proved resistant to chemotherapy and the patient required a bone marrow transplant.

Gupta and his team emphasized that bone marrow transplant - a risky and painful procedure - is not a viable option for HIV treatment. Researchers posited that this phenomena in both patients may have played a role in the loss of HIV-infected cells. Scientists are following 38 people with HIV who've received transplants.

After Brown's case, scientists tried for 12 years to copy the result with other HIV-positive cancer patients.

Still, Fauci is hopeful that such approaches will eventually be available for HIV patients. Both Brown and the London patient are testament to how effective such strategies in modifying CCR5 can be in thwarting HIV. "So many things have happened that I thought were out of our realm of possibility", he says.

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