Man 'cured' of HIV

Alicia Farmer
March 7, 2019

Imperial College reported that both patients were treated with stem cell transplants from donors carrying a genetic mutation that prevents expression of an HIV receptor CCR5.

Gupta described his patient as "functionally cured" and "in remission", but cautioned: "It's too early to say he's cured".

When people take the medicine that keeps HIV at bay, they are not able to pass the virus to others, he said.

This is a hard treatment that carries a high risk of infection and other complications, such as graft-versus-host disease, blood clots and liver disease. "It's important because there are 36 million-odd people with HIV worldwide". Nearly one million people die annually from HIV-related causes.

Timothy Ray Brown, the Berlin Patient, had been living with HIV and routinely using antiretroviral therapy when he was diagnosed with a different disease, acute myeloid leukemia. He was placed on antiretroviral therapy in 2012, but later that year, he was also diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's Lymphoma and was treated with chemotherapy.

CCR5 is the most commonly used receptor by HIV-1.

Doctors in London, according to a report featured in the Reuters news outlet, said an adult HIV-positive man was cleared of the virus after he received a bone marrow transplant from a HIV-resistant donor. Chemotherapy can be effective at fighting HIV because it kills dividing cells. In all other attempts, the virus had come back after the patient stopped anti-HIV medication. Despite contracting a mild case of graft-versus-host disease, in which donor cells assault host ones, he has suffered few severe side effects.

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The patient remained on ARV for 16 months after the transplant, at which point the clinical team and the patient made a decision to interrupt ARV therapy to test if the patient was truly in HIV-1 remission.

The patient has been in remission for 19 months, the International Aids Society said. Tests showed that his CD4 T cells now lacked CCR5 receptors.

He is only the second person documented to be in sustained remission without ARV.

The patient is the second after another man who went through the functional cure of HIV in Germany in 2007. More recently, researchers reported that a bone marrow transplant recipient in Minnesota had viral remission lasting almost 10 months after an analytic treatment interruption, but he too ultimately experienced viral rebound. Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the "Berlin patient", is the first person ever cured of HIV.

Marking World AIDS Day in November, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said that the world stood at a "critical juncture", and the direction of the response to the on-going epidemic, would determine whether or not the world could end AIDS by 2030, in line with the UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy and the Sustainable Development Goals.

A person recognized exclusively because the "London affected person" seemed to be cured of H.I.V., making him the second recognized affected a person in practically 12 years, giving scientists new hope that an eventual treatment is feasible, studies stated Monday.

The research team for the London patient will present their findings at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle, Washington.

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