Second Patient Reportedly Cured of HIV After Stem-Cell Therapy
Second Patient Reportedly Cured of HIV After Stem-Cell Therapy
A Second Individual Is in HIV Remission. What This Means for a Remedy by Denis Bedoya | Mar 6 2019 | Health
09 March, 2019, 01:57
He underwent chemotherapy to treat the Hodgkin's cancer and, in addition, stem cells were implanted into the patient from a donor resistant to HIV, leading to both his cancer and HIV going into remission. The harsh drugs that patient took, a kind no longer used, led to severe complications, and he nearly died. The mutation is related to HIV resistance, said Reuters.
Ravindra Gupta, a HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating the man, said the man was "functionally cured", although he cautioned: "It's too early to say he's cured".
"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", Gupta said in a statement.
Out of the 37 million people infected worldwide, 21 million have access to therapies that can keep the disease under control. Most people who develop AIDS are ravaged by the disease and die.
Dr Gero Hutter, the German doctor who treated the first cured patient Mr Brown, who is still free of the virus, described the latest case as "great news" and "one piece in the HIV cure puzzle".
Stem cell transplants typically are harsh procedures which start with radiation or chemotherapy to damage the body's existing immune system and make room for a new one. He added that it could lead to a simpler approach that could be used more widely.
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Researchers from eight countries are tracking 45 patients with cancer and HIV who have or will soon have stem cell transplants. Two factors are likely at play - the new bone marrow is resistant to HIV and also the new bone marrow is actively eliminating any HIV-infected cells through something called graft versus host disease. Replacing immune cells with those that don't have the CCR5 receptor appears to be key in preventing HIV from rebounding after the treatment. After receiving treatment, both patients were eventually taken off their anti-retroviral medications and subsequent examination showed that that even with very sensitive blood tests, the team could not detect HIV in their blood. He stopped taking HIV medication only 3.5 months ago while the "London patient", whose case was first reported on 4 March, has been off medication for 18 months. His immune cells also remain unable to express the CCR5 receptor. This indicates that other patients, in the same circumstances, should where possible receive transplants from a donor with this same gene mutation.
"By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly, and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people", said professor Gupta. 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.
"This is not a treatment appropriate for people with HIV who do not have cancer", the Treatment Action Group said in a statement.
"And so we were now 18 months in and we are confident this will be along term remission".
A second person is in sustained remission from HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, after ceasing treatment and is likely cured, researchers were set to announce at a medical conference Tuesday.
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