London HIV patient becomes world's second AIDS cure hope
London HIV patient becomes world's second AIDS cure hope
Has a second person with HIV been cured?
06 March, 2019, 02:55
The announcement that a London man has become the second in the world to be "functionally cured" of HIV is a major advance in stem celltransplant therapy.
"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 the residual virus and stop any traces of virus from rebounding". He developed cancer and agreed to a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer in 2016.
"This second documented case does reinforce the message that HIV cures are possible", says infection and immunity researcher Anthony Kelleher from UNSW in Australia, who wasn't involved with the study. Even if the CCR5 mutation wasn't extremely rare, you'd still have to match the immunological footprints of the donor and the patient to prevent the bone marrow from reacting badly to the recipient. Interestingly, the donor's stem cells had a mutation named CCR5 delta 32.
The HIV virus has killed almost 40 million people since it was discovered in 1981.
Following his bone marrow transplant, the London Patient also got two copies of the CCR5 receptor. 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.
A man known only as the "London patient" appeared to be cured of H.I.V.
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Nearly three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resistsHIV infection - and more than 18 months after he came off antiretroviral drugs - highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man's previous HIV infection.
Timothy Brown also known as The Berlin Patient. The Guardina Newspaper in United Kingdom also reported that a London patient with HIV has become the second person ever to be free of the virus after a bone marrow transplant, raising hopes of a cure for Aids. Certain HIV antibodies and proteins declined in the blood of both men, she points out, which might offer a helpful early indicator of whether a cure strategy is working prior to stopping ARVs. One such effort is the IAS Towards an HIV Cure initiative established in 2012 to promote and facilitate the search for a safe and affordable cure that can be scaled up.
The Wall Street Journal noted, "Scientists are struggling to find a cure for HIV, a virus notorious for hiding in the body and evading attempts to flush it out".
As with cancer, chemotherapy can be effective against HIV as it kills cells that are dividing. "Some of them are directly related to the Berlin patient and work with transplantation: for example, gene modification therapy".
The latest patient supposedly cured of the virus was being treated for a type of cancer of the blood-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Nevertheless, the researchers are clear: "At 18 months post-treatment interruption it is premature to conclude that this patient has been cured". For now, experts believe that any remaining HIV in the London patient isn't able to replicate at the pace it needs to change into a different form.
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