Health Care

Second patient reportedly cured of HIV in big milestone for AIDS treatment

Second patient reportedly cured of HIV in big milestone for AIDS treatment”

To treat their blood cancers, the two men received bone marrow transplants from people who carried a mutation in the CCR5 gene.

People who have two mutated copies of CCR5 are resistant to most HIV-1 virus strains, frustrating the virus' attempts to enter host cells.

Now, an worldwide team of scientists led by Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University College London, reports a second patient has been in remission for three years following a similar procedure.

The man is being called "the London patient", because his case is similar to the first known case of a functional cure of HIV - in an American man, Timothy Brown, who became known as the Berlin patient.

Brown, though, had undergone more severe treatment than the London patient and for a while researchers believed that his near-death experience was key to curing HIV. Later, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma.

However, the researchers caution that the approach is not appropriate as a standard HIV treatment due to the toxicity of chemotherapy, but it offers hope for new treatment strategies that might eliminate HIV altogether.

"We continue to monitor his condition;, however, the apparent success of this treatment injects new hope in the search for a long-awaited cure for HIV/Aids."#.

"If you are saying that bone marrow transplants are now going to be a viable way to cure large numbers of people with HIV in a scalable way, the answer to that is absolutely not", says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. A conditioning regimen, which may include chemotherapy and radiation to the entire body, prepares a patient to accept a stem cell treatment, such as a bone marrow transplant, by making room for the new stem cells. "We can't detect anything", HIV biologist Ravindra Gupta - one of the doctors who treated the man - told Reuters.

"I feel a sense of responsibility to help the doctors understand how it happened so they can develop the science", he said. The blood treatments the Berlin and London patients had have failed in other patients.

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. 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.

"What we're talking about with a bone marrow transplant is getting rid of someone's immune system and giving them back someone else's immune system", says Dr. Rosenthal. He was called the "Berlin patient" and was later identified as Timothy Ray Brown. It's been a year and a half since then, and there's still no sign of HIV, despite tests having screened an estimated 24 million individual T cells.

However, now that science has determined that the earlier Berlin patient's HIV cure wasn't merely a odd fluke, it could open up the doors to new gene-level treatments for the disease. He and Brown are the only cases of long-term HIV remission ever recorded.

"Common to both approaches is the presence of a modified gene in our immune system - CCR5 - that is necessary for HIV infection", Kelleher said in a statement.

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