A Second Person May Be Cured of HIV

A Second Person May Be Cured of HIV

Possibly. The London patient's immune system is now created to block HIV's most common path into cells, using the CCR5 receptor. His doctors have declared him "functionally cured" but also added that it is too early to call him fully cured of AIDS.

"This case tells us that there is no magic conditioning regimen", Lewin says. For people without cancer, treatment with antiretrovirals in the long term is preferable to even a short combination of chemotherapy and stem cell transfer. Until now, Brown is the only person thought to have been cured of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He is still HIV-free.

Scientist are increasingly hopeful that cure would be found soon after over 30 years of rigorous research.

The case marks only the second time ever that doctors have used this particular treatment to seemingly eliminate the virus from a person's body. Other attempts had failed.

The Berlin patient was actually an American (real name: Timothy Ray Brown) diagnosed with HIV while living in Germany.

CNN reports that the London patient, who has chosen anonymity, was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and began taking antiretroviral drugs nine years later. "Some of them are directly related to the Berlin patient and work with transplantation: for example, gene modification therapy".

The patient, from London, was able to successfully recover after receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare HIV-resistant genetic mutation. As a result, the man ended up with an immune system that was naturally resistant to HIV. Currently, there are powerful and effective drugs available to control HIV infection with few or no side-effects. "Everybody believed after the Berlin patient that you needed to almost die basically to cure HIV, but now maybe you don't".

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But McKnight cautioned that this won't necessarily lead to a treatment for all HIV individuals. To do this in others, exact match donors would have to be found in the tiny proportion of people - majority of northern European descent - who have the CCR5 mutation that makes them resistant to the virus. These efforts include editing the CCR5 gene in HIV-positive people and giving the genetically edited cells back to them. This experiment raised an ethical furor.

"Although it is not a viable large-scale strategy for a cure, it does represent a critical moment in the search for an HIV cure", said Anton Pozniak, president of the International AIDS Society in a statement.

The case, published online on Monday by the journal Nature, involved researches from UCL, Imperial, Oxford and Cambridge.

But replacing immune cells with those that do not have the CCR5 receptor appears to be key in preventing HIV from rebounding after the treatment.

The scientists are describing the case as a long-term remission publically, while most experts are calling it a cure, the paper reported. However, because HIV remained undetectable, he is still considered clinically cured of his infection, according to his doctors.

He had HIV for more than a decade before two stem-cell transplants, in 2007 and 2008, cleared it from his body.

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