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Second person cured of HIV in major medical breakthrough

06 March 2019

Nearly three years after he received bone marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection - and more than 18 months after he came off antiretroviral drugs - highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man's previous HIV infection.

The donor had genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta 32, a gene that provides a resistance against HIV.

After Brown's case, scientists tried for 12 years to copy the result with other HIV-positive cancer patients.

He developed Hodgkin lymphoma in later 2012 and agreed to a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer in 2016.

In some of the past transplant failures, the donor did not have a mutated CCR5, but the conditioning regimen seemed to have significantly reduced the "reservoirs" of cells in the recipient that have latent HIV infections, invisible to the immune system.

"Common to both approaches is the presence of a modified gene in our immune system - CCR5 - that is necessary for HIV infection", Kelleher said in a statement.

A man known only as the "London patient" appeared to be cured of H.I.V.

A second person has experienced sustained remission from HIV-1, according to a case study to be published Tuesday in the journal Nature.

Can bone marrow transplants eliminate HIV for a large number of people?

For the London patient, Gupta and his team also found a donor who had these mutations in CCR5. More than 21 million take drugs that keep HIV alive but reduces the spread.

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

Experts have also warned that the treatment carried out is not practical or healthy for people living with HIV, reports the BBC, but could ultimately help to find a cure.

Between Brown and the new London patient, scientists made several attempts to cure other AIDS patients using the same method, but failed in all of them.

Regular testing has confirmed that the patient's viral load remained undetectable since then.

Until now, Timothy Ray Brown from the U.S. was the only person thought to have been cured of HIV after undergoing a transplant in Berlin 12 years ago. But HIV drugs have become so effective that many people carrying this infection have a normal lifespan if they take these medications for a lifetime.

"After 2 years, we'll be talking more about 'cure, '" Gupta says. However, the team behind this success are advising caution, saying it is too early to call it a cure.

This was the second time a man was cured of HIV after receiving stem cells from a donor with a genetic mutation known to resist the killer virus.

"I would like to meet the London Patient".

"If you are saying that bone marrow transplants are now going to be a viable way to cure large numbers of people with HIV in a scalable way, the answer to that is absolutely not", says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. At one point during his treatment, the Berlin patient almost died and had to be placed in an induced coma.

Second person cured of HIV in major medical breakthrough