Second HIV Patient is in Remission, Cure May Be Discovered Soon

A Man Has Become The Second Person Worldwide To Be Cleared Of HIV

The therapy had an early success with Timothy Ray Brown, a U.S. man treated in Germany who is 12 years post-transplant and still free of HIV.

Here's what to know about the landmark case. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003.

The unidentified man in the United Kingdom, who is being called "the London patient", received bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection.

The donor had this double copy of the mutation, which Dr Gupta described as "an improbable event".

The London patient has not been identified.

Reacting to the case of the patient in London who had no sign of the virus for almost 19 months after undergoing a bone marrow transplant, the group said it demonstrated "proof of concept that HIV is curable".

While the patient had been in remission from HIV for 18 months, scientists said it was too early to say the man had been "cured". Resistant to HIV infection, these modified cells should eventually clear the body of the virus. "Is that a cure?"

He is tested often, and his HIV viral load is undetectable.

This means the virus can not penetrate cells in the body that it normally infects. "I never thought that there would be a cure during my lifetime", he added. "It can't grow, it can't replicate, it can't spread - it can't cause any problems".

Now, researchers at University College London report in a paper being published Tuesday in Nature that they have apparently eliminated HIV in a second person. 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.

"If we can understand better why the procedure works in some patients and not others, we will be closer to our ultimate goal of curing HIV".

HIV is one of the most deadliest viruses in the world.

After examining over and over the "London patient's" blood to look for H.I.V., the scientists could not find any circulating virus.

"In a way, the only person to compare with directly is the Berlin patient", he said. Doctors haven't been clear on why the patient hadn't started ART when he was diagnosed with the disease. The longer treatment is delayed, the greater the chance that HIV can also mutate to use CXCR4 and CCR5 to infect cells.

"Coming 10 years after the successful report of the Berlin Patient, this new case confirms that bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5-negative donor can eliminate the residual virus and stop any traces of virus from rebounding". The modification must target the right number of cells, in the right place - only the bone marrow, for example, and not the brain - and tweak only the genes directing production of CCR5.

The failure rate of such transplants is high. After standard treatments failed, they gave the patient a stem-cell transplant - essentially killing off his old immune system and giving him a new one.

Around 100,000 people in Britain are living with HIV and the team is now looking into whether it is possible to simply knock out the receptor through gene therapy. Currently, there are powerful and effective drugs available to control HIV infection with few or no side-effects.

The researcher, who further explained that the method used is not appropriate for all patients, offered hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies. "If something has happened once in medical science, it can happen again", he said. "So while it's truly aspirational, I wouldn't say it's out of the realm of possibility".

While there isn't a hundred percent guarantee, the London patient has been off his medication for a year without any sign of the virus making a comeback.

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