London patient in long-term HIV remission after stem cell transplant

Stem cell patient 'cured' of HIV | News

He also received less aggressive conditioning chemotherapy (lomustine, cyclophosphamide, cytarabine and etoposide), alemtuzumab (Campath, a monoclonal antibody that targets CD52 on malignant B and T cells), and cyclosporine-A and methotrexate, immunosuppressive drugs used to prevent graft-versus-host disease (when transplanted immune cells attack the recipient's body).

Until now, Timothy Ray Brown from the USA was the only person thought to have been cured of HIV after undergoing a transplant in Berlin 12 years ago. Brown was also being treated for cancer, and his stem cell transplant was used to eliminate both his cancer and HIV.

News that a second person may have been "cured" demonstrates that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly.

The transplant, in other words, changed the key on the lock, and the virus could no longer get in. But cure is not around the corner, and infected patients are nowhere near a situation in which they can hope to stop taking their pills soon. Researchers extensively tested his blood, gut, brain and other tissues, finding no evidence of replication-competent HIV anywhere in his body. The widely criticised Chinese doctor He Jiankui, has in fact, claimed to have modified the CCR5 protein in at least two children using CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology. "London Patient" has brought excitement, but a cure for HIV is still some distance away.

The patient has not been identified. It's unclear why he waited that long.

But a breakthrough came recently, when a "London patient", who contracted HIV in 2003 and later diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2012, obtained a stem cell transplant in 2016. Since the virus was first discovered in the 1980s, more than 75 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV.

Timothy Ray Brown is an America who nearly died, as he suffered intense complications for months after he underwent a bone marrow transplant from a donor with the rare genetic mutation called "CCR5 delta 32" that's resistant to HIV, in an attempt to treat his cancer. They had found that northern Europeans descendents possess a genetic make-up that make them immune to HIV infection. The donor had this double copy of the mutation.

That was "an improbable event", said lead researcher Ravindra Gupta of University College London. He said it was an "improbable event" and "has not been observed more frequently".

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While the transplants are considered risky as it had failed it others, experts say the donor had double copies of the mutation, making this truly a miracle for the London patient!

Among this group, 19.6 million are living in East and Southern Africa which saw 800,000 new HIV infections in 2017.

When drugs are stopped, the virus roars back, usually in two to three weeks.

The subject of the new study has been in remission for 18 months after his antiretroviral therapy (ARV) was discontinued.

In spite of the concerns, there is hope for people like Gupta, who told Reuters that his team plans to use these findings to explore potential new HIV treatment strategies.

The statement quoted IAS President Anton Pozniak as saying "This is the second reported case of prolonged remission off antiretroviral therapy (ART) post bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5 negative donor".

There are complications too.

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