London HIV patient becomes world's second Aids cure hope


The new patient has chosen to remain anonymous, and the scientists referred to him only as the "London patient".

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The patient was able to stop taking anti retroviral therapy drugs to control his HIV How does it work? Three years after receiving stem cells from the donor with a rare genetic mutation resistant to HIV, the latest tests show no sign of the patient's previous HIV infection.

Almost three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells, and more than 18 months after coming off antiretroviral drugs - highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man's previous HIV infection.

There has been only one documented case of HIV, which causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), being cured. "We need to understand if we could knock out this (CCR5) receptor in people with HIV, which may be possible with gene therapy", he said.

The London patient, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2003, had also developed cancer.

Later that year, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a deadly cancer.

This can prevent the virus being transmitted to others and give people with HIV a near-normal life expectancy.

The man is being called "the London patient", as his case is similar to the first-known case of a HIV cure, known as "the Berlin patient".

After two bone marrow transplants, Brown was considered cured of his HIV-1 infection.

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Doctors have managed to "cure" a man living with HIV.

The London patient and Brown may point to ways to judge the success of a potential cure short of stopping ARVs and seeing whether the virus returns, says Rowena Johnston, who directs research at amfAR.

Dr Sarah Palmer, Deputy Director of the Centre for Virus Research at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research and Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney, said it was encouraging news. It's a complex and risky procedure - even this successful patient suffered a period of graft versus host disease - and requires exact match donors from the minuscule portion of people who have the CCR5 mutation.

He had HIV for more than a decade before two stem-cell transplants, in 2007 and 2008, cleared it from his body.

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".

The case was published online Monday by the journal Nature and will be presented at a HIV conference in Seattle.

Most experts say it is unlikely such treatments could be a way of curing all patients.

Dr. Timothy Henrich, an associate professor of medicine and physician scientist at University of California, San Francisco's Department of Medicine, also noted that the London patient's treatment "is not a scalable, safe or economically viable strategy to induce HIV remission". But such transplants are unsafe, can not be used widely and have failed in other patients. "There are similarities with the Berlin Patient case, but there are also differences".

"We haven't cured HIV, but [this] gives us hope that it's going to be feasible one day to eliminate the virus", she said.