Published: Wed, March 06, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Second Person Goes Into HIV Remission After Stem Cell Treatment

Second Person Goes Into HIV Remission After Stem Cell Treatment

While a combination of chemotherapies put the cancer into remission, the doctors had by this point identified an unrelated individual that was a good match for the patient, and carried mutations that can block HIV infection.

The new report shows that doctors don't have to use as intense a treatment regime as the Berlin patient underwent in order to achieve success. He received two bone-marrow transplants from a donor with a rare mutation the CCR5 gene, which prevents the virus from entering the cells of the immune system, making people resistant to HIV, and became the first patient to be "cured" of HIV. "We can thus say the patient is functionally cured", said Ravindra Gupta, one of the medics working on the man's case.

Some companies are researching gene therapy techniques, but they remain far from developing a cure for widespread use. The title is similar to the first known case of a cured HIV-positive patient. Millions of people are HIV positive, ...

However, most of the patients have died due to the cancer, side effects of the transplant, or saw a return of the virus after quitting antiretroviral drugs.

The decades-long HIV epidemic still persists in the United States and worldwide, with almost 39,000 new diagnoses in the country in 2017.

The "London patient" told the Times, "I feel a sense of responsibility to help the doctors understand how it happened so they can develop the science", adding that when he was apprised he might be cured it felt "surreal" and "overwhelming".

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He has been HIV-free, in remission, for 18 months, according to tests.

The unidentified man now joins Timothy Ray Brown, also known as The Berlin Patient, the only other person to be cured of HIV. That transplant also appeared to clear his HIV infection. About a year and a half after the transplant, with no indications of an active infection, antiviral therapies were stopped. President Trump has been a proponent of cutting the budget allocated to fighting HIV and directing energies t5owards find a cure.

A second person has experienced sustained, lasting remission from HIV-1, effectively leading some scientists to believe the patient has been cured of the viral infection. The London patient ultimately had no option but to try the experimental treatment when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2012.

"They used a reduced intense conditioning regimen but I think that had no influence on the outcome", he said.

Timothy Henrich, a clinician at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has seen HIV bounce back in two patients who had a conditioning regimen that impressively knocked down HIV reservoirs but whose transplants came from donors with working CCR5s. This indicates that other patients, in the same circumstances, should, where possible, receive transplants from a donor with this same gene mutation. "This is a long time to be in remission off ART, so this is exciting", said Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and Professor of Medicine at The University of Melbourne.

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