'London Patient case not a viable large scale strategy for HIV cure'

HIV  AIDS timeline

HIV AIDS timeline

The doctors selected a donor who had two copies of a particular mutation in the CCR5 gene that prevents HIV from infecting T-cells, a part of the immune system where the virus takes hold and does its damage.

Unexpectedly, the stem cell treatment - from a donor with a mutation of the CCR5 gene, which is a co-receptor for the HIV-1 infection - ended up with Brown's HIV going into remission, where is has remained ever since.

Gupta went on to tell the outlet that the patient was "in remission" and "functionally cured"; however, "It's too early to say he's cured" completely, said the doctor. This genetic mutation is HIV-resistant.

But he added: "The treatment is not appropriate as a standard HIV treatment because of the toxicity of chemotherapy, which in this case was required to treat the lymphoma".

"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. Bone marrow from a CCR5 negative donor was also given to the "London Patient".

For the second time in the decades-long fight against the HIV/AIDS, a patient with HIV has reportedly been cured of the virus.

In 2016 the patient underwent haematopoietic stem cell transplant and remained on anti-viral drugs for more than a year afterwards.

University College London (UCL) researchers made the announcement at the CROI in Seattle, US.

The London-based patient was confirmed HIV-free following a bone marrow transplant from a HIV-resistant donor. A second, less common form of HIV, could still cause infection despite a transplant like this.

Unfortunately, this cure still isn't ready to be disseminated to other infected patients.




The London patient has been off HIV medications for 18 months now, and is still HIV-free, the researchers said.

Dr. Gero Hütter, who treated the Berlin patient and is now medical director at Cellex Collection Center in Dresden, Germany, said in an email that the treatment used for the London patient is "comparable" to the one he pioneered.

Gupta and his team emphasized that bone marrow transplant - a unsafe and painful procedure - is not a viable option for HIV treatment.

Ravindra Gupta and his colleagues write, "it is premature to conclude that this patient has been cured", but they are hopeful that will prove to be the case.

Nonetheless, future research into how this HIV receptor functions could bring us a lot closer to an eventual cure for HIV, which now infects around 37 million people worldwide.

In the meantime, he said the focus needed to be on diagnosing HIV promptly and starting patients on lifelong combination antiretroviral therapy.

The London Patient has not been named yet, but Brown hopes both men will meet one day, but just not yet on account of publicity concerns.

The study's lead author, Professor Ravindra Gupta, said: "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".

Sixteen months after the treatment, he was taken off antiretrovirals. So, the transplant gave the patient the mutation and built-in HIV resistance, according to the case study that was published online Monday in the journal Nature.

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