London Patient Might be Second-Ever Cured of HIV

The man's doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to the HIV virus

123rfThe man's doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to the HIV virus

The Berlin patient was identified many years later as Timothy Ray Brown, a 52-year-old man now a California resident.

Choosing to describe the patient as "functionally cured", he said, "there is no virus there that we can measure". The donor - who was unrelated - had a genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta 32, which confers resistance to HIV.

The case, published online Monday by the journal Nature, was presented Tuesday at an HIV conference in Seattle.

The research team was co-led by Indian origin Dr Ravindra Gupta Londoner who is a professor and HIV biologist.

The London patient underwent the transplant in May 2016, and in September 2017, stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.

Timothy Brown also known as The Berlin Patient.

The London-based patient becomes the second individual ever to be seemingly cured of HIV over a decade after the first: Timothy Ray Brown, AKA the "Berlin patient", who nearly died after his treatment, according to The New York Times.

The London patient, who wishes to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 but did not begin anti-HIV drug therapy, which can keep the virus below detectable levels, until 2012.

According to The New York Times, the patient entered "remission" from HIV after he received a bone marrow transplant to treat his unrelated lymphoma diagnosis.

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But a very small number of people who are resistant to HIV have two mutated copies of the CCR5 receptor.

Compared to Brown, the London patient had a less punishing form of chemotherapy to get ready for the transplant, didn't have radiation and had only a mild reaction to the transplant.

The approach is not appropriate as a standard HIV treatment due to the toxicity of chemotherapy, he warned, but said he is "hopeful" it will help them develop strategies that might eliminate HIV altogether.

Dr. Gero Hutter, the German doctor who treated Brown, called the new case "great news" and "one piece in the HIV cure puzzle".

Since the Berlin patient, "cure" and not just treatment has become a topic in HIV research, said Hütter: "This new case supports the idea to seek an HIV cure".

The study's lead author, Professor Ravindra Gupta, said: "Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global priority, but is particularly hard because the virus integrates into the white blood cells of its host". Although the interventions that the two patients received could only be used on a tiny fraction of the 37 million HIV-infected people worldwide, their stories point to cure strategies that could be more widely applicable. He waited about nine years after being diagnosed with HIV to start anti-HIV drug therapy.

But a reservoir of cells carrying HIV can still remain in the body, in a resting state, for many years. It's only the second time this has been accomplished, despite many attempts over more than a decade. This should encourage HIV patients needing bone marrow transplantation to consider a CCR5 negative donor if possible.

Mr Brown hopes that the London patient's cure proves as durable as his own, NYT reported.

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