Health Care

HIV patient in Britain gets cured of the disease

HIV patient in Britain gets cured of the disease”

Publicly, the scientists are describing the case as a long-term "remission". So far, there are only two known instances of a reported cure.

Both milestones resulted from bone-marrow transplants given to infected patients.

Brown said he would like to meet the London patient and would encourage him to go public because "it's been very useful for science and for giving hope to HIV-positive people, to people living with HIV", he told The Associated Press Monday.

A new drug-resistant form of HIV is also a growing concern. 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 coming off antiretroviral drugs - highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man's previous HIV infection'. The consortium is supported by AMFAR, the American AIDS research organization.

The patient in the new case is from the United Kingdom but has not been identified.

To learn more about the factors that favor a cure, amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, a New York City-based foundation, in 2014 began to fund a consortium of global researchers who do transplants in HIV-infected people with blood cancers.

"I never thought that there would be a cure during my lifetime", he said.

That news, displayed on a poster at the back of a conference room, initially gained little attention. But such transplants are unsafe, can not be used widely and have failed in other patients. Scientific research into the complex virus has in recent years led to the development of drug combinations that can keep it at bay in most patients. The failures left scientists wondering whether Brown's cure would remain a fluke. Twelve years ago the "Berlin patient" received a bone-barrow transplant of stem cells from a donor with two copies of the mutation of the gene CCR5, known to be resistant to HIV. The team also found that his white blood cells now can not be infected with CCR5-dependent HIV strains, indicating the donor's cells had engrafted. Almost one million people die every year from HIV-related causes.

"He was really beaten up by the whole procedure", said Dr. Steven Deeks, an AIDS expert at the University of California, San Francisco, who has treated Brown.

Timothy Ray Brown's HIV cure may no longer be unique. The London patient, in contrast, had a milder regimen that targeted his lymphoma.

The patient received the bone-marrow transplant in May 2016.

That was "an improbable event", said lead researcher Ravindra Gupta of University College London.

Although the London patient was not as ill as Brown had been after the transplant, the procedure worked about as well: The transplant destroyed the cancer without harmful side effects.

The vast majority of people who express the CCR5 mutation live in Northern Europe, and there aren't many of them. IciStem maintains a database of about 22,000 such donors.

"Coming 10 years after the successful report of the Berlin Patient, this new case confirms that bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5-negative donor can eliminate residual virus and stop any traces of virus from rebounding", said Lewin, who was not involved in the new case study.

The London patient is 36 on this list. Details of that case will be presented at the Seattle conference later this week.

Speaking to Reuters, Gupta clarified that it is still too early to say that the man is actually permanently virus-free, but that he is "functionally cured" and "in remission." . "There are similarities with the Berlin Patient case, but there are also differences". "That's kind of the only standard we have at the moment". "I did a little happy dance when I read the paper", she says. "It tells us that Timothy Brown wasn't a one-off".

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