Second man seems to be free of AIDS virus after transplant

Second man seems to be free of AIDS virus after transplant

Approximately 37 million people are now infected with HIV globally, and more than 35 million people have died from AIDS or related illnesses.

The case report, carried out by researchers at UCL and Imperial College London, together with teams at the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, comes ten years after the first such case, known as the 'Berlin Patient'.

The reason these specific bone-marrow transplants seem to be capable of curing HIV is that both donors had a genetic mutation in a protein called CCR5 that made them more resistant to a common kind of HIV, the kind both men had. Now, 18 months after stopping medication, the patient's blood is still testing negative for HIV.

It's the second such success including "Berlin patient" Timothy Ray Brown.

"Continuing our research, we need to understand if we could knock out this [CCR5] receptor in people with HIV, which may be possible with gene therapy", lead study author Ravindra Gupta said in a release. In one example, Pablo Tebas, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Pennsylvania, and his co-workers remove white blood cells from HIV-infected people and then knock out their CCR5 genes with a genome editor called zinc finger nucleases, a precursor to the better known CRISPR.

Bone marrow transplant is a high-risk, life-threatening procedure.

Although a bone-marrow transplant cannot be a standard treatment for HIV, doctors can use what they learn in these special cases to try to develop new treatments that could be used by more people, Adalja said.

Later that year, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a deadly cancer. So far, 38 people living with HIV have received bone marrow transplants from one of these donors, and their progress is being tracked. In September 2017, 16 months after the stem cell transplant, the "London patient" went off antiretroviral drugs and has remained HIV-free.

The most promising way to end HIV in the United States, experts say, is to manage infected patients' viral loads with drugs, and to prevent the disease from spreading to more people. Brown has been clear of HIV for more than a decade. He underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat not AIDS but leukemia. But Brown, now 52, continues to live HIV-free today. "That completely suppresses the virus [making it] undetectable".

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The patient asked to remain anonymous and is referred to as the "London patient".

"This case tells us that there is no magic conditioning regimen", Lewin says.

Nevertheless, Gupta hopes the work demonstrates the viability of other, less risky, CCR5 modifications, possibly through gene therapy.

Since the Berlin patient, "cure" and not just treatment has become a topic in HIV research, said Hütter: "This new case supports the idea to seek an HIV cure".

A patient who was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 has become the second patient ever known to be cured of the infection that affects close to 37 million people worldwide after receiving a bone marrow transplant meant to treat cancer, doctors say.

A new drug-resistant form of HIV is also a growing concern.

A second person is in sustained remission from HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, after ceasing treatment and is likely cured, researchers were set to announce at a medical conference Tuesday. "Everybody believed after the Berlin patient that you needed to almost die basically to cure HIV, but now maybe you don't".

HIV is a virus spread through bodily fluids that attacks the immune system, specifically CD4 cells, according to HIV.gov.

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