Second person in history reportedly cured of HIV

Henrietta Strickland
March 5, 2019

A second person has experienced sustained remission from HIV-1, according to a case study to be published Tuesday in the journal Nature.

Nonetheless, future research into how this HIV receptor functions could bring us a lot closer to an eventual cure for HIV, which now infects around 37 million people worldwide.

The patient has not been identified. Nearly three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection - and more than 18 months after coming off antiretroviral drugs - highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man's previous HIV infection'.

STAT reports: 'The person who received this latest transplant in London has not taken antiretroviral drugs since September 2017....

The man is being called "the London patient", in part because his case is similar to the first known case of a functional cure of HIV-in an American man, Timothy Brown, who became known as the Berlin patient when he underwent similar treatment in Germany in 2007 which also cleared his HIV.

Gupta added that the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies.

Gupta described his patient as "functionally cured" and "in remission", but cautioned: "It's too early to say he's cured".

Nearly 1 million people die annually from HIV-related causes. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started taking drugs to control the infection in 2012.

To test whether he was truly in HIV-1 remission, the London patient disrupted his usual antiretroviral therapy.

"The so-called London Patient has now been off ART for 19 months with no viral rebound which is impressive, but I would still be closely monitoring his viral load". After two bone marrow transplants, Brown was considered cured of his HIV-1 infection. However, because HIV remained undetectable, he is still considered clinically cured of his infection, according to his doctors.

It's the second such success since "Berlin patient" Timothy Ray Brown more than a decade ago.

Timothy Henrich, a clinician at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has seen HIV bounce back in two patients who had a conditioning regimen that impressively knocked down HIV reservoirs but whose transplants came from donors with working CCR5s.

Researchers report that a man with HIV, dubbed the "London patient", appears to have been cured of the infection, following a bone marrow transplant.

Sixteen months after the procedure (which notably didn't include radiotherapy, unlike the Berlin patient), the London patient discontinued ARV drugs (aka ART therapy), and has now been in HIV remission for over 18 months.

Graham Cooke, a professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College London, said in a statement to the Science Media Centre that the new study is "encouraging".

"If we can understand better why the procedure works in some patients and not others, we will be closer to our ultimate goal of curing HIV", said Cooke, who was not involved in the case study. "There are similarities with the Berlin Patient case, but there are also differences". "It's been 10 years since the last success, and I was totally prepared for failure of the graft or return of the lymphoma", he says.

"Even if we're not going to cure the world with stem cell transplants", Johnston says, "it's important to have a collection of people who've been cured so we can put together that information to figure out how we can do a cure more broadly".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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