For second time ever, a groundbreaking stem cell remedy has cured HIV


The transplant involves killing nearly all the immune cells and replacing them with donor cells, and is so risky it can only be carried out on people with cancer.

However, the results do offer a greater insight for researchers working on HIV cure strategies and highlight the continuing importance of investing in scientific research and innovation. Both the Berlin and London patients had this complication, which may have played a role in the loss of HIV-infected cells, Gupta said.

Since the Berlin patient, "cure" and not just treatment has become a topic in HIV research, said Hütter: "This new case supports the idea to seek an HIV cure".

The London patient is one of 38 patients given bone marrow treatment, including six who used donors without the mutation, that a group of researchers is following. Other strains of HIV exist that rely on a different co-receptor, called CXCR4, and these viral strains can still infect CCR5-mutant cells, so this approach would not be expected to work in every HIV patient.

No matter how successful transplants are in the patients who need them, it's unlikely they will ever be the primary way in which doctors treat people with HIV. He is the second patient after Mr Brown to remain virus-free for more than a year after stopping ARVs. Brown has previously spoken of how he counts the date of the first stem cell treatment-February 6, 2007-as a new birthdate of sorts, because it was on this day that, unbeknownst to his doctors at the time, he would apparently be cured of HIV. The donor's stem cells "took" in the recipient and generated a new bone marrow, which also began to churn out white blood cells, restoring the immune system in the patient.

Around 22,000 people are known have the CCR5 mutation, and they are mostly northern European.

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The surgical replacement of bone marrow with the stem cells of patients who have the CCR5 genetic mutation must be followed by hospitalization where patients can be monitored for and treated against tissue rejection. Both patients 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. Unfortunately, the treatment the Berlin and London patients had have failed in other patients, so it is not considered a cure. When the patient received the stem cells, his immune system also developed a natural resistance to HIV. Currently, those affected by HIV can have near normal lifespans.

Since 1980, around 37 million people worldwide have been infected by HIV with cases rising continuously. After 18 months, after he stopped taking antiretroviral medications, the doctors can not detect it signs of HIV.

It is noted that bone marrow transplantation cannot be applied for HIV-positive patients who do not have cancer.

"Whilst this type of treatment is clearly not practical for millions of people around the world living with HIV, reports such as this may help in the ultimate development of a cure", said Andrew Freedman, a reader in infectious diseases at Cardiff University in Wales. And pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is also 92 percent effective in preventing HIV among individuals at high-risk when the pill is taken daily.

CCR5 was the target in the genome of the controversial gene-edited twins born a year ago in China, whose father is HIV-positive.