Fox News medical correspondent Dr. Marc Siegel on a second patient reportedly cured of HIV after being treated with a stem cell transplant and the death of Luke Perry from complications after a stroke.
The "London patient" who was infected with H.I.V. and suffered from Hodgkin's lymphoma, received a bone marrow transplant from a donor with the CCR 5 mutation in May 2016, the New York Times reported.
"It shows the Berlin patient was not just a one-off, that this is a rational approach in limited circumstances", Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital (who was not involved in the study), told the paper.
But replacing immune cells with those that do not have the CCR5 receptor appears to be key in preventing HIV from rebounding after the treatment.
HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating the man, Ravindra Gupta, said that it's too early to say whether he is officially cured of the disease, but did go as far as saying he was "functionally cured" and "in remission".
A new drug-resistant form of HIV is also a growing concern.
"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".
Timothy Ray Brown known as the ‘Berlin Patient, was the first person to be cured of HIV infection
Both Brown and the London patient underwent bone marrow transplants because they needed to treat their cancer, not to treat their HIV; and both experienced side effects of rejection at varying levels, since they received cells from an unrelated donor.
Doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to HIV. Indeed, 16 months later, his virus remains at below detectable levels, and his immune cells all contain the HIV-fighting CCR5 mutation.
The donor, researchers noted, possessed 2 mutated copies of the CCR5 allele - similar to the donor in the first case of HIV remission.
Possibly. The London patient's immune system is now created to block HIV's most common path into cells, using the CCR5 receptor.
The man has chosen to remain anonymous, with scientists referring to him as "the London patient". "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.
Regular testing confirmed that the patient's viral load remained undetectable, and he has been in remission for 18 months since ceasing ARV therapy (35 months post-transplant). HIV-1 remission following CCR5Δ32/Δ32 haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. But doctors cautioned against calling the patient's results a cure for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The London patient, whose case is set to be presented at a medical conference in Seattle on Tuesday, has asked his medical team not to reveal his name, age, nationality or other details.
Such transplants are risky and have failed in other patients.