Second man seems to be free of AIDS virus after transplant

A blood test being administered on an individual to check for HIV in Chile on Dec 11 2018

Reports seen by TUKO.co.ke on Tuesday, March 5, indicated doctors conducted numerous tests on the said patient and they could not find a single trace of the AIDS virus three years after the bone marrow transplant procedure.

"By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly, and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people", said the study's lead author, Professor Ravindra Gupta (UCL, UCLH and University of Cambridge). IN 2016, he agreed to undertake bone marrow stem cell transplant from a donor, a common but expensive procedure to treat cancer.

About 37 million people worldwide now have HIV, and the AIDS virus has killed about 35 million since taking off in the 1980s.

The man, who was not identified, was diagnosed with HIV - the virus that causes AIDS - in 2003, according to the findings published by the journal Nature.

This can prevent the virus being transmitted to others and give people with HIV a near-normal life expectancy. "We need to understand if we could knock out this (CCR5) receptor in people with HIV, which may be possible with gene therapy", he said.

A London man appears to be free of the AIDS virus after a stem cell transplant - marking a potential milestone breakthrough, 12 years after the first success. Both the Berlin and London patients had this complication, which may have played a role in the loss of HIV-infected cells, Gupta said.

After two bone marrow transplants, Brown was considered cured of his HIV-1 infection.

The case is proof of the concept that scientists will one day be able to end AIDS, the doctors said, but does not mean a cure for HIV has been found.

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Almost three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells, and more than 18 months after coming off antiretroviral drugs - highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man's previous HIV infection.

The London patient, who had Hodgkin's lymphoma, is the first adult to be cleared of HIV since Brown.

In some of the past transplant failures, the donor did not have a mutated CCR5, but the conditioning regimen seemed to have significantly reduced the "reservoirs" of cells in the recipient that have latent HIV infections, invisible to the immune system.

The Berlin patient - treated for leukemia - was given two transplants, and underwent total body irradiation, while the British patient received just one transplant and less intensive chemotherapy. Details of that case will be presented at the Seattle conference later this week.

Sharon R Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and the University of Melbourne, told AFP, "The second case strengthens the idea that a cure is feasible".

"A bone-marrow transplantation as a cure is not viable".

"We can try to tease out which part of the transplant might have made a difference here, and allowed this man to stop his anti-viral drugs".

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