UK patient 'free' of HIV after stem cell treatment

UK patient 'free' of HIV after stem cell treatment

UK patient 'free' of HIV after stem cell treatment

Nearly three years on, and more than 18 months after coming off antiretroviral drugs, highly sensitive tests show no signs of the man's previous HIV infection.

The donor had genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta 32, a gene that provides a resistance against HIV.

"By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly, and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people", Professor Ravindra Gupta of University College London said in a statement.

"Coming 10 years after the successful report of the Berlin Patient, this new case confirms that bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5-negative donor can eliminate residual virus and stop any traces of virus from rebounding", said Lewin.

After the bone marrow transplant, the London patient remained on ARV for 16 months, at which point treatment was stopped.

The London patient has been off HIV medications for 18 months now, and is still HIV-free, the researchers said.

According to a United Kingdom study there a second HIV positive man who has been treated for AIDS. More than 21 million take drugs that keep HIV alive but reduces the spread.

There may be real hope for sufferers with AIDS; after twelve years, a second person has apparently been cured of H.I.V., the virus that precedes AIDS.

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The donor was resistant because of a mutation in his CCR5 gene.

Stem cell transplants typically are harsh procedures which start with radiation or chemotherapy to damage the body's existing immune system and make room for a new one. Details of that case will be presented at the Seattle conference later this week.

The HIV virus has killed almost 40 million people since it was discovered in 1981.

Mark Dybul, co-chair of the IAS initiative, said: "Despite the great success of ART, there remains a high need for a cure for HIV, especially in low-income settings".

There are important limitations to applying the findings of the London patient to a HIV cure, said Anthony Kelleher, director of the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Timothy Brown, an American man, was known as "the Berlin patient" when he also received a bone marrow transplant for leukemia treatment in Germany 12 years ago. But such transplants are risky, can not be used widely and have failed in other patients.

He had Lodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer that begins in lymphocytes-the white blood cells that help fight off disease.

Doctors and researchers have made remarkable progress in terms of treatment since then and the news of a second patient being cured is seen as a sign that a universal cure will eventually be found. "It shows the Berlin patient was not just a one-off, that this is a rational approach in limited circumstances", Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital (who was not involved in the study), told the paper.

There has been only one documented case of HIV, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), being cured. Not until the world heard of how the London patient, who was - to a lesser degree than Brown - battling with cancer and the virus.

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