Home Health HIV cure breakthrough as Patient in London Becomes Second to be Cured

HIV cure breakthrough as Patient in London Becomes Second to be Cured

290
0
SHARE

After ‘Berlin Patient’, Another Man Has Reportedly Been Cured of HIV in London.

The yet to be identified patient was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started taking drugs to control the infection in 2012.

HIV researchers say case is proof of concept that scientists will one day be able to end AIDS, but does not mean a cure for HIV has been found just yet

An HIV-positive man in Britain has become the second known adult worldwide to be cleared of the AIDS virus after he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor, his doctors said.

Almost three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection – and more than 18 months after coming off antiretroviral drugs – highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man’s previous HIV infection.

The therapy had an early success with Timothy Ray Brown, a U.S. man treated in Germany who is 12 years post-transplant and still free of HIV. Until now, Brown is the only person thought to have been cured of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Also Read:  Over 50 babies born HIV positive in Nasarawa – NASACA Report

Such transplants are dangerous and have failed in other patients. They’re also impractical to try to cure the millions already infected.

The latest case “shows the cure of Timothy Brown was not a fluke and can be recreated,” said Dr. Keith Jerome of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who had no role. He added that it could lead to a simpler approach that could be used more widely.

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

The patient has not been identified. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started taking drugs to control the infection in 2012. It’s unclear why he waited that long. He developed Hodgkin lymphoma that year and agreed to a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer in 2016.

Also Read:  #WorldAidsDay 2018: 5 women share their stories of living with HIV

With the right kind of donor, his doctors figured, the London patient might get a bonus beyond treating his cancer: a possible HIV cure.

Doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to HIV. About 1 percent of people descended from northern Europeans have inherited the mutation from both parents and are immune to most HIV. The donor had this double copy of the mutation.

That was “an improbable event,” said lead researcher Ravindra Gupta of University College London. “That’s why this has not been observed more frequently.”

The transplant changed the London patient’s immune system, giving him the donor’s mutation and HIV resistance.

The patient voluntarily stopped taking HIV drugs to see if the virus would come back.

Usually, HIV patients expect to stay on daily pills for life to suppress the virus. When drugs are stopped, the virus roars back, usually in two to three weeks.

That didn’t happen with the London patient. There is still no trace of the virus after 18 months off the drugs.

Also Read:  HIV-Positive Man Arrested For Infecting Over 200 Women In Italy

Brown said he would like to meet the London patient and would encourage him to go public because “it’s been very useful for science and for giving hope to HIV-positive people, to people living with HIV,” he told The Associated Press Monday.

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. There are complications too. Brown had to have a second stem cell transplant when his leukemia returned.

Compared to Brown, the London patient had a less punishing form of chemotherapy to get ready for the transplant, didn’t have radiation and had only a mild reaction to the transplant.

Dr. Gero Hutter, the German doctor who treated Brown, called the new case “great news” and “one piece in the HIV cure puzzle.”

Doctors are hopeful the man is now cured, although say it is too early to make a final call.