‘London patient’: second case ever of HIV remission

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"Continuing our research, we need to understand if we could knock out this receptor in people with HIV, which may be possible with gene therapy", said Professor Gupta.

After the transplant, the man's lymphoma went into remission and he experienced mild graft-versus-host disease, where the donor immune cells attack the recipient's body.

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. The results of this new case and its details were published this week in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

All of that seemed to change when in 2008 at the Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, Massachusetts, the news broke of the Berlin patient, named Timothy Ray Brown, who seemed to have been cured of his HIV.

According to the report, the patient was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and was on anti-HIV drugs since 2012. In addition to chemotherapy, he underwent a haematopoietic stem cell transplant from a donor with two copies of the CCR5 Δ32 allele in 2016.

The idea is to use an initial drug to flush out HIV that is hiding from the immune system and then use standard antiretrovirals to kill the newly-exposed virus.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) announced this week that the HIV-positive man referred to as "London Patient" has remained in HIV remission off antiretroviral therapy (ART), 19 months after receiving a bone marrow transplant from a CCR5 negative donor for Hodgkin's lymphoma. Brown had to have a second stem cell transplant when his leukemia returned. To some that means a cure; however, as Dr Annemarie Wensing of the University Medical Centre Utrecht, who was quoted by The NYT, said, "We don't have any global agreement on what time without viral rebound is necessary to speak about cure".

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Almost 37 million people worldwide live with HIV, yet only 59 percent receive ARV. With an HIV prevalence of 0.26 per cent in the adult population, India has an estimated 2.1 million people with HIV, shows UNAIDS data.

Henrich told the B.A.R. he thinks the London man will represent a second cure. About 1% of people descended from northern Europeans have inherited the mutation from both parents and are immune to most HIV.

The London patient has been in remission for 18 months since he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.

A London man appears to be HIV-free after a stem cell transplant - a unsafe and risky procedure.

"I feel a sense of responsibility to help the doctors understand how it happened so they can develop the science", the "London patient" told The New York Times in an email.

According to reports, the patient is only the second person ever reported to have been cleared of the virus using this method. Both patients who received this treatment have now been off their antiviral drugs used to suppress HIV, without any sign of a resurgence of the disease.

He and others said the London Patient's case does, however, underline that in this approach, two factors combined are crucial - the CCR5 genetic resistance, plus its delivery to all cells, including immune cells. "There is a cost issue for developing countries", he said in a statement.

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