Düsseldorf Patient: A Third Person May Have Been Cured Of HIV

Leslie Hanson
March 10, 2019

It was announced this week that a second person living with HIV who was co-infected with late-stage cancer, underwent a bone marrow transplant with stem cells from a donor who had the CCR5 genetic mutation.

All of that seemed to change when in 2008 at the Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, Massachusetts, the news broke of the Berlin patient, named Timothy Ray Brown, who seemed to have been cured of his HIV.

Both moments in history highlight how the horror of the AIDS pandemic and the unconscionable deaths of more than 36 million people across the world creates an ongoing desperation for news of a possible cure for HIV.

Around 16 months after the London Patient received the CCR5 stem cells, doctors discontinued his antiretroviral treatments, and 18 months down the line, the man's remission persists. Neither of these patients have stopped their antiviral drug regimens yet.

Researchers say that bone marrow transplants can't be performed on HIV patients who don't have cancer due to the significant risks involved in the procedure.

In the United States, however, the Trump administration continues to chip away at federal funding for potentially life-saving HIV/AIDS research. As part of his treatment for leukemia, which is a cancer of the immune system, his immune cells were destroyed and replaced with donor cells with the mutation.

You may have noticed that I have repeatedly referred to this treatment as an "apparent cure" and more frequently HIV remission, and this is for a good reason.

"The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks and weakens the immune system, reducing its ability to fight diseases or infections", Girish Badarkhe, Haematologist at HCG Cancer Centre, Bengaluru, told IANS.

Researchers learned that Brown and the "London patient" both shared a novel treatment course.

Gaining better understandings of how the body can naturally resist infection offers hope of a cure, even if it still remains just out of grasp; this success of stem cell transplantation provides renewed hoped that strategies may be developed to tackle the virus as expanding remission to those affected disproportionately is important. "Meanwhile focus needs to be on diagnosing HIV patients promptly and starting them on the lifelong cART treatment to help prevent further spread of the virus and provide the opportunity for those infected to live near normal life expectancy". When HIV-infected individuals are compliant with the prescribed use of the AIDS cocktail, their viral load is undetectable and they become untransmittable, meaning they can not sexually transmit the HIV virus to others. The patient must then be monitored to insure that his or her HIV does not come roaring back.

CCR5 receptor is most commonly used by the HIV-1 virus to enter cells.

The process is not scalable, since it can not be used on all HIV patients - only a small group of cancer patients failing all other cancer treatment interventions who also have HIV.

The Düsseldorf patient, who has been HIV-free for three months without antiviral medication, is in rare company as one of only three people who have successfully been cured of HIV.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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