Scientists report a 2nd person has been cured of HIV

Thursday, 07 Mar, 2019

For this reason, he's often described as being the first patient "cured" of HIV, although technically that's incorrect, since remission and cures are not the same thing (as sometimes remissions are not complete, if the viral load stages a resurgence).

Nearly 1 million people die each year from HIV-related causes and the only current treatment available is for the affected to take antiretroviral drugs for their entire lives.

"There is no virus there that we can measure".

The London Patient was given stem cells from a donor with genetic resistance to the disease. The investigators plan to publish their report on Tuesday in the journal Nature and are to present some of the details at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, the Times reported. However, the team behind this success are advising caution, saying it is too early to call it a cure.

According to The New York Times, the patient entered "remission" from HIV after he received a bone marrow transplant to treat his unrelated lymphoma diagnosis. The Dusseldorf patient stopped antiretroviral therapy in November 2018, still has undetectable HIV and is undergoing continued monitoring. About 37 million people worldwide now have HIV, and the AIDS virus has killed about 35 million since taking off in the 1980s.

"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 residual virus and stop any traces of virus from rebounding". Donors must be a genetic match to recipients, and there are very few people who also naturally carry two copies of the disabled CCR5 gene, which limits the number of potential transplants.

Nevertheless, the researchers are clear: "At 18 months post-treatment interruption it is premature to conclude that this patient has been cured". A second, less common form of HIV, could still cause infection despite a transplant like this.

It was only in 2016 that he was able to access the stem cell donation because he was seeking treatment for the cancer, not the HIB. In Brown's case, he had leukaemia and was in need of bone-marrow transplants since his chemotherapy was failing him. Brown has been clear of HIV for more than a decade.

Institutions involved in the case include Imperial College London, University College London, and Cambridge and Oxford University.

Sharon Lewin, an expert at Australia's Doherty Institute and co-chair of the International AIDS Society's cure research advisory board, said: "We haven't cured HIV, but (this) gives us hope that it's going to be feasible one day to eliminate the virus".

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 cell transplant therapy.

"Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global priority, but is particularly hard because the virus integrates into the white blood cells of its host", said the study's lead author, Professor Ravindra Gupta from the University of Cambridge, who led the study while at UCL.

"This is not a treatment appropriate for people with HIV who do not have cancer", the Treatment Action Group said in a statement.