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London HIV Patient World’s Second to Be Cleared of AIDS Virus: Doctors

LONDON – HIV-positive man in Britain has become the second-best known adult in the world to get rid of the AIDS virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, Reuters reported Wednesday mentioning his doctors.
Nearly three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor carrying a rare genetic mutation resistant to HIV infection – and more than 18 months after the end of antiretroviral therapy – tests extremely sensitive still show no trace of the previous HIV infection of humans.
There is no virus out there that we can measure, we can not detect anything, said Ravindra Gupta, professor and HIV biologist, who jointly led a team of doctors treating the man.
The case is a proof of concept that scientists will one day be able to stop AIDS, doctors added, but it does not mean that a cure for HIV has been found.
Gupta described his patient as “functionally cured” and “in remission”, but warned, “It is too early to say that he is cured”.
The man is called “the London patient”, partly because his case is like the first known case of functional HIV cure – in an American, Timothy Brown, who became known as the Berlin patient after suffering a similar treatment in Germany in 2007, which also eliminated his HIV.
Brown, who lived in Berlin, has since moved to the United States and, according to HIV experts, still does not have HIV.
Currently, some 37 million people worldwide are infected with HIV, and the AIDS pandemic has killed an estimated 35 million people worldwide since its emergence in the 1980s. Scientific research into the complex virus has led in recent years the development of drug combinations that can keep it in check for most patients.
Gupta, now at Cambridge University, treated the London patient while working at University College London. The man had contracted HIV in 2003, said Gupta. In 2012, a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin lymphoma was also diagnosed.
In 2016, when he was very ill with cancer, the doctors decided to look for a graft that corresponds to him. “It was really his last chance of survival,” Gupta told Reuters in an interview.
The donor – who was not related – had a genetic mutation called “CCR5 delta 32”, which confers resistance to HIV.
The transplant went relatively well, explained Gupta, but there were some side effects, including the patient with a period of “graft-versus-host disease” – a condition in which the donor’s immune cells attack the immune cells of the recipient.
Most experts say that it is inconceivable that such treatments are a way to cure all patients. The procedure is expensive, complex and risky. To do this, in other cases, it would be necessary to find identical donors, in the small proportion of people – most of them of North European ancestry – suffering from the CCR5 mutation which makes them resistant to the virus.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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