'London patient' becomes HIV-free after transplant

Desiree Burns
March 6, 2019

Researchers reported the case in the journal Nature and at this week's Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.

In this case, however, there was a second goal: to cure the patient's HIV. In both cases, the men had cancer, and were treated with bone marrow from a donor with the CCR5 mutation; CCR5 is a protein that HIV uses to enter certain immune cells.

Doctors in London say they have apparently eradicated HIV from a patient's body.

His doctors said he was the second person to be cleared of the AIDS virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor.

Gupta said the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies.

"It's too early to say he's cured".

Experts caution that even if CCR5-delta-32 stem cell transplantation can lead to a functional cure of HIV, this high-risk procedure will not be an option for most people. Treating an HIV patient with bone marrow stem cells from someone with the beneficial mutation means finding a person that matches the recipient's biology and also happens to have the rare mutation.

Gupta's patient, a male resident of the United Kingdom who prefers to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and began antiretroviral therapy in 2012. He was diagnosed with the cancer in 2012. Scientists have wondered, however, whether this good fortune could be shared around by injecting stem cells from people with two Δ32 copies into HIV patients.

Gupta and his team emphasized that bone marrow transplant - a risky and painful procedure - is not a viable option for HIV treatment.

London man becomes second in world to be cured of HIV

Gertrude Asiimwe, Human Diagnostics Uganda Customer Relations Officer demonstrates how an oral HIV self-testing kit is used during an exhibition in Kampala, capital of Uganda, July 17, 2017. However, because HIV remained undetectable, he is still considered clinically cured of his infection, according to his doctors.

The breakthrough comes ten years after the first such case of a patient with HIV going into sustained remission, known as the 'Berlin Patient'.

Most experts say it is inconceivable such treatments could be a way of curing all patients. Still, the London case shows that "HIV cures are possible", he said. The first, the Berlin Patient, also received a stem cell transplant from a donor with two of the CCR5 alleles, but to treat leukaemia.

"This tells us that the feasibility, and importantly, the availability of delivering this approach could possibly be achieved by the rapidly accelerating field of gene editing and related gene therapies".

A man in London has become the second known HIV-positive adult to be cleared of the virus that causes the disease AIDS.

The patient has been in remission for 19 months, the International AIDS Society said in a statement. "Nobody doubted the truth of the report with the Berlin patient, but it was one patient - and which of the many things that were done to him contributed to the apparent cure?"

Brown sat in the front row, stood for a round of applause and shook hands with lead researcher Ravindra Gupta of University College London after Gupta presented details on the London patient.

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"I do have hope".

"I'm not sure what this tells us", Dr. Anthony Fauci, who works at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the New York Times.

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