HIV cure: British patient becomes second person to beat virus


Researchers report that a man with HIV, dubbed the "London patient," appears to have been cured of the infection, following a bone marrow transplant. Both people were treated with stem cell transplants from donors who carried a rare genetic mutation, known as CCR5-delta 32, that made them resistant to HIV, CNN reported.

Prior to his transplant, the London patient was taking antiretroviral medications to manage his HIV.

But it in the past 18 months he was taken off the extra drugs and regular testing confirmed his viral load is now undetectable.

The "London patient" told the Times, "I feel a sense of responsibility to help the doctors understand how it happened so they can develop the science", adding that when he was apprised he might be cured it felt "surreal" and "overwhelming".

The man is being called "the London patient", 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.

Researchers from eight countries are tracking 45 patients with cancer and HIV who have or will soon have stem cell transplants.

Fauci sees the report of the London patient as being less about the possible benefits of bone marrow transplants in treating or even curing HIV, and more about the need to focus HIV research on CCR5. Although the patient has been in remission and has not taken any antiretroviral drugs for 18 months, his doctors say it's still too early to claim he's been "cured". In one example, Pablo Tebas, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, and his co-workers remove white blood cells from HIV-infected people and then knock out their CCR5 genes with a genome editor called zinc finger nucleases, a precursor to the better known CRISPR.

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Dr. Gupta from University College London has stated that the two rounds of successful treatment prove that the Berlin patient "was not an anomaly".

Anton Pozniak, president of the International AIDS Society (IAS) said the announcement "reaffirms our belief that there exists a proof of concept that HIV is curable".

Now, doctors in Europe are reporting a second case of HIV remission after a similar stem cell transplant.

The CCR5 gene, and the eponymous cell it codes for, nearly certainly play a crucial role in the collateral HIV cure.

For the second time in the decades-long fight against the HIV/AIDS, a patient with HIV has reportedly been cured of the virus.

That doesn't diminish excitement about the new case from the research community, which has become interested in using gene therapy to disable the CCR5 gene, using other technologies - including the gene-editing technology CRISPR. Although the interventions that the two patients received could only be used on a tiny fraction of the 37 million HIV-infected people worldwide, their stories point to cure strategies that could be more widely applicable. "I've been waiting for company for a long time".

"At the moment the procedure still carries too much risk to be used in patients who are otherwise well". He underwent intensive conditioning chemotherapy and whole-body radiation to kill off his cancerous immune cells, allowing the donor stem cells to rebuild a new HIV-resistant immune system.

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