Scientists report a 2nd person has been cured of HIV


Nearly three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection - and more than 18 months after he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs - highly sensitive tests still showed no trace of the London patient's previous HIV infection.

The new case report is "another proof of concept that we can eradicate HIV in theses situations", said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, who was not involved in the report.

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.

Trump and his administration had nothing to do with the latest HIV "cure" as efforts have been going on for years.

Twelve years ago, Timothy Brown - initially called the "Berlin patient" before he chose to go public - had this transplant and has been clear of HIV ever since.

Combined with past cases (one successful and one failed), we can now say something about what needs to be done to get rid of the virus. "HIV is like high blood pressure; we can control the symptoms, but we can't remove the cause". She/he/ze seems to have followed the same recovery path as Mr Brown all those years ago after their treatments.

With immunosuppressive drugs and repeated bone marrow transplants, the treatment ultimately worked.

"The bone marrow they (doctors) used had a unique feature".

"Secondly, naturally resistant and compatible bone marrow donors are rare because of the need for donor recipient matching".

For both Brown and the London patient, the bone marrow transplant successfully killed cancerous cells while simultaneously providing cells immune to HIV. He notes that the Berlin patient and the London patient had similar side effects after the treatment. Partly for that reason, doctors have not considered this a viable option for HIV/AIDS patients. In addition to chemotherapy, he underwent a haematopoietic stem cell transplant from a donor with two copies of the CCR5 allele in 2016. Later, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma. The London patient is one of 40 in the study.

His case is similar to the first man cured of HIV in 2007.

A full paper detailing the second patient's treatment and remission will be published March 5 in Nature. "We're fortunate now in that we can have many patients treated with one pill, once a day". If the cure is confirmed, it will be a global breakthrough in fighting the deadly virus.

After examining over and over the "London patient's" blood to look for H.I.V., the scientists could not find any circulating virus.

Much more work remains ahead, but this second remission is "very exciting", Kiem said.

The kicker? Mutated CCR5 proteins are HIV-resistant and able to prevent the virus from entering cells in the immune system.

In what would only be the second time in medical history, an HIV patient appears to have been cured of the disease thanks to a bone marrow stem cell transplant.

The UK researchers say it may be possible to use gene therapy to target the CCR5 receptor in people with HIV, now they know the Berlin patient's recovery was not a one-off. "If you don't have any virus that can be detected for an extended period of time, when does that become a cure instead of remission?" Thanks to patients like this, we may have a better sense of how to ensure the benefits of the transplant include the elimination of HIV.