British Man Becomes Second Person Ever To Be Cleared Of HIV

Grant Boone
March 8, 2019

With additional patients in the cohort about to stop ART in what is known as an analytic treatment interruption, researchers are cautiously optimistic that there may soon be additional cases of sustained undetectable virus in the absence of therapy. They also caution that it is too early to call the second patient cured.

CCR5 is the most commonly used receptor by HIV-1 but people who have two mutated copies of the CCR5 allele are resistant to the virus strain that uses this receptor. Since Δ32 is rare, receiving copies from both your parents is like winning a genetic lottery.

The first, the Berlin Patient, also received a stem cell transplant from a donor with two CCR5 alleles, but to treat leukaemia. Both the Berlin and London patients had this complication, which may have played a role in the loss of HIV-infected cells, Gupta said.

"While we fully understand that stem cell transplantation is not a practical way of curing large numbers of people, we can learn a tremendous amount from these cases" said amfAR Chief Executive Officer Kevin Robert Frost.

But only somewhat. As noted above, the immune system derived from the transplanted cells appears to have started to attack its new host.

It's a matter of semantics, says Dr. Steven Deeks, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and one of the doctors who treated Brown.

Between Brown and the new London patient, scientists made several attempts to cure other AIDS patients using the same method, but failed in all of them. "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.

The decades-long HIV epidemic still persists in the United States and worldwide, with almost 39,000 new diagnoses in the country in 2017.

It was only in 2016 that he was able to access the stem cell donation because he was seeking treatment for the cancer, not the HIB.

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The man stopped antiretroviral therapy in an analytic treatment interruption 17 months after the transplant. He has been tested regularly in the 18 months since, and so far not only is there no sign of the virus returning, but his white blood cells are not expressing CCR5.

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

It is important to note a functional cure is not a complete eradicated cure.

After examining over and over the "London patient's" blood to look for H.I.V., the scientists could not find any circulating virus.

An HIV-positive man in Britain has become the second known adult worldwide to be cleared of the AIDS virus after he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor, his doctors said. He notes that the Berlin patient and the London patient had similar side effects after the treatment.

His team plans to use their findings to explore possibilities for future HIV treatment plans.

For now, the patient has chosen to remain anonymous and he's being called the "London Patient".

That does not mean donor stem cells will become a widely used treatment for HIV. Moreover, there aren't enough double Δ32 donors to treat everyone. There are now 37 million people infected with HIV, 21 million are on antiretroviral treatment, but drug-resistant strains are becoming more widespread. Brown received a transplant without functioning CCR5 genes.

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