HIV case may be a second cure

HIV case may be a second cure

HIV case may be a second cure

A London man appears to be free of the virus that causes AIDS after a stem cell transplant, the second success including the "Berlin patient", doctors reported.

News of the patient, who is located in Düsseldorf, Germany, came just a day after the second known patient to experience long-term remission from HIV without medication was first reported.

"Although this breakthrough is complicated and much more work is needed, it gives us great hope for the future that we could potentially end AIDS with science, through a vaccine or a cure", Sidibé said.

However, experts are enthusiastic about the promise that the cure of the London patient showed. They're also impractical to try to cure the millions already infected.

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

His doctors believed that with the right kind of donor, the London patient could find an HIV cure as well as cancer treatment.

University College London's lead researcher Ravindra Gupta says due to the limitations in the number of people with such peculiarity, the genetic mutation could not be observed as frequent as it should be.

The patient has not been identified.

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Gupta's patient, a male resident of the United Kingdom who prefers to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and began antiretroviral therapy in 2012.

Prof Gupta's case was in an HIV-positive man with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma who received a transplant of haematopoietic stem cells from a donor with two copies of the so-called CCR5 gene mutation - the same one allegedly edited by Chinese researcher He Jiankui that led to the birth of the world's first gene-edited babies past year. He underwent intensive conditioning chemotherapy and whole-body radiation therapy to kill off his cancerous immune cells, allowing the donor stem cells to rebuild a new HIV-resistant immune system. About 1 percent of people descended from northern Europeans have inherited the mutation from both parents and are immune to most HIV. Gupta described this as a condition in which donor immune cells attack the recipient's immune cells.

These findings demonstrate that "the Berlin patient was not an anomaly", Gupta said.

The CCR5 gene, and the eponymous cell it codes for, nearly certainly play a crucial role in the collateral HIV cure.

"I think it's just another step in the long journey of finding treatments, finding a way to outsmart this very clever virus", says John Haigney, CEO of the Long Island Association for AIDS Care. When drugs are stopped, the virus roars back, usually in two to three weeks.

Dr. Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and a professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne, said the long remission seen in the London patient is "exciting". He has gone for 18 months without taking the antiretroviral drugs used to prevent growth of the virus.

Reporting that a man has been in remission of HIV for a year and a half after receiving a stem cell transplant without medication increases the likelihood that he is the second person to be cured of the disease.

"However, it also shows how far away we are from that point", he added saying it emphasized "the absolute importance of continuing to focus HIV prevention and treatment efforts".

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