Second Ever Patient May Have Been Cured of HIV

Leslie Hanson
March 8, 2019

Even a newborn girl in MS, who was treated with anti-HIV drugs minutes after being born to an HIV-positive mother and remained in remission for about four years without medications, saw her HIV return and needed to go back on drug therapy.

It worked. The Berlin patient, later identified as an American, Timothy Ray Brown, is the first and only person to be "cured" of HIV.

Professor Eduardo Olavarria, from Imperial College London, said: "While it is too premature to say with certainty that our patient is now cured of HIV, he is clearly in a long-term remission".

"CCR5 is something essential for the virus to complete its life-cycle and we can't knock out many other things without causing harm to the patient", said Gupta. Brown was treated using stem cells, effectively transplanting his immune system, because he had an unrelated cancer, and the chemotherapy was interfering with the antiretroviral drugs that had previously controlled his infection. Bone marrow transplants have always been used to treat this type of blood cancer. Then donor stem cells are injected into the blood, where they travel to the bone marrow and produce new, healthy blood cells. "We are being cautious" to call it remission for now, he said.

Compared to Mr. Brown's treatment, who almost died due to intense complications, the London Patient's treatment was less intense. Doctors haven't been clear on why the patient hadn't started ART when he was diagnosed with the disease. This should encourage HIV patients needing bone marrow transplantation to consider a CCR5 negative donor if possible. In 2012, he developed a blood cancer called Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Twelve years ago in Berlin, scientists were able to cure the first H.I.V. patient.

However, future investigation into how the CCR5 receptor functions could pave the way for an eventual HIV cure.

Brown hopes that the "London patient" will survive as long as he has.

This is the second time a patient treated this way has ended up in remission from HIV.

"Medications used to be much more hard and have higher side effects", says Dr. Rosenthal. In other words, something about this person's body made it impossible for him or her to become infected with the HIV virus. "That completely suppresses the virus [making it] undetectable". Post-treatment Brown stopped taking drugs but the virus has still not returned.

The identification of the HIV virus ultimately led to the development of therapies that specifically target the virus' ability to make new copies of itself.

"We really don't know what the long-standing significance of this is", says Dr. Rosenthal. Bone marrow transplant procedures are rough, involving heavy-duty drugs, serious side effects, and the possibility of death.

Computer illustration of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) particle.

Dr. Ravindra Gupta, who presented the findings at the Seattle meeting, said, "I think this does change the game a little bit. It shows the Berlin patient was not just a one-off, that this is a rational approach in limited circumstances", said Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "If you don't have any virus that can be detected for an extended period of time, when does that become a cure instead of remission?"

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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