Second HIV Patient is in Remission, Cure May Be Discovered Soon

Henrietta Strickland
March 6, 2019

Here's what to know about the landmark case.

He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started taking drugs to control the infection in 2012. Interestingly, the donor's stem cells had a mutation named CCR5 delta 32.

"By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly", said lead author Ravindra Gupta, a professor at the University of Cambridge, referring to the first known functional cure.

Does this mean HIV has been cured?

Brown was only treated this way because his prospects were so dire otherwise. "Is that a cure?"

The London patient said that it was "surreal" and "overwhelming" to have both his cancer and his HIV cured at the same time.

This means the virus can not penetrate cells in the body that it normally infects.

A mutation in the door's CCR5 gene stops HIV entering. "It can't grow, it can't replicate, it can't spread - it can't cause any problems". "I think that finding a scalable cure that is safe and can be applied to a vast majority of individuals living with HIV is definitely attainable, but we have a lot more work to go".

The fight to beat HIV has been going on for a long, long time.

Could the patient's HIV come back?

Gero Hütter, the German hematologist who treated Timothy Ray Brown, said: "By repeating the procedure in another patient, there is more evidence that the "Berlin patient" is not a sole exception". But the virus can't attach itself to the mutated form.

CCR5 is the most commonly used receptor by HIV-1.

The London patient, in contrast, had a milder regimen that targeted his lymphoma. After an interruption to his anti-retroviral therapy, which would normally keep the HIV under control, doctors discovered HIV was undetectable.

He was diagnosed with the disease in 1995 and started antiretroviral treatment. That might have had the ironic benefit of further reducing HIV reservoirs, Lewin says. Scientists have wondered, however, whether this good fortune could be shared around by injecting stem cells from people with two Δ32 copies into HIV patients. He decided in 2016 to have a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer, the Associated Press reported. In Brown's case, he had leukaemia and was in need of bone-marrow transplants since his chemotherapy was failing him. "I would much rather be on one pill a day with relatively little toxicity than risk a bone marrow transplant so I don't have to take one pill a day".

To learn more about the factors that favor a cure, amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, a New York City-based foundation, in 2014 began to fund a consortium of worldwide researchers who do transplants in HIV-infected people with blood cancers.

The transplant changed the London patient's immune system, giving him the donor's mutation and HIV resistance. But HIV drugs have become so effective that many people carrying this infection have a normal lifespan if they take these medications for a lifetime.

Scientists have inched closer to finding the real cure for HIV/AIDS after another man who was until recently HIV-positive was successfully cured of the disease in Britain.

Still, Fauci is hopeful that such approaches will eventually be available for HIV patients. He said, "If something has happened once in medical science, it can happen again".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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