London: An HIV-positive doctor in Britain has become the second known adult in the world to be eliminated from the AIDS virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, his doctors said.
Almost three years after receiving stem cells from the bone marrow of a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection, and more than 18 months after stopping antiretroviral drugs, highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man’s previous infection with HIV.
“There are no viruses there that we can measure. We can not detect anything, “said Ravindra Gupta, an HIV professor and biologist who led a team of doctors treating the man.
The case is a proof of the concept that scientists will someday be able to end AIDS, doctors said, but this does not mean that a cure for HIV has been found.
Gupta described his patient as “functionally cured” and “in remission”, but warned: “It is too early to say that he is cured.”
The man is called “the London patient”, in part because his case is similar to the first known case of functional HIV cure: in an American man, Timothy Brown, who was known as the Berlin patient when he underwent a similar treatment. in Germany in 2007, which also eliminated their HIV.
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Brown, who had been living in Berlin, has since moved to the United States and, according to HIV experts, is still free of HIV.
Some 37 million people around the world are currently infected with HIV and the AIDS pandemic has killed around 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s. Scientific research on the complex virus in recent years has led to the development of drug combinations that can keep it at bay in most patients.
Gupta, now at the University of Cambridge, treated the patient from London while working at University College London. The man had contracted HIV in 2003, Gupta said, and in 2012 he was also diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
In 2016, when I was very sick with cancer, the doctors decided to seek a transplant transplant. “This was really his last chance for survival,” Gupta told Reuters in an interview.
The donor, who was not related, had a genetic mutation known as “CCR5 delta 32”, which confers resistance to HIV.
The transplant was relatively mild, Gupta said, but there were some side effects, including the patient who suffered a period of “graft-versus-host” disease, a condition in which the donor’s immune cells attack the recipient’s immune cells.
Most experts say it is inconceivable that such treatments can be a way to cure all patients. The procedure is expensive, complex and risky. To do this in others, exact match donors should be found in the small proportion of people, most of them of northern European ancestry, who have the CCR5 mutation that makes them resistant to the virus.