London patient may be second person to be cured of HIV

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In the case of both Brown and now the London patient, the new blood cells transplanted into them were from donors who had two copies of a gene mutation for the CCR5 receptor.

A second patient has reportedly been cured of HIV, which could be a major milestone, in the global fight against the AIDS epidemic.

This is a hard treatment that carries a high risk of infection and other complications, such as graft-versus-host disease, blood clots and liver disease. An estimated 37 million people are now living with HIV around the world and more than two-thirds (70 percent) of all people living with HIV, 25.8 million, live in sub-Saharan Africa. 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.

Researchers have made several attempts to manipulate the immune system with interventions that target HIV and HIV-infected cells or that change the behaviour of immune cells to better address the infection.

This patient now joins Timothy Ray Brown aka the "Berlin patient" who was treated in Germany for HIV in 2002 and was also cured of the virus. Experts have warned that stem cell transplant in these cases may not be free of danger and could be fatal or ineffective. They had found that northern Europeans descendents possess a genetic make-up that make them immune to HIV infection.

The transplant was relatively uncomplicated, but with some side effects including mild graft-versus-host disease, a complication of transplants wherein the donor immune cells attack the recipient's immune cells. The London Patient has been HIV-free for 18 months since he stopped taking drugs.

Regular testing confirmed that the patient's viral load remained undetectable, and he has been in remission for 18 months since ceasing ARV therapy (35 months post-transplant).

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"So the key is that someone has to come up with a way to deliver (CCR5) gene-editing capability to all the (immune system) T-cells - and that's what people are working on right now", Deeks added.

He is only the second person documented to be in sustained remission without ARV. He said news of the London man encouraging as vaccine trials continue in Kenya.

The German patient had also received a bone marrow patient.

The London Patient joins the first case of this kind, Timothy Ray Brown - or the "Berlin Patient" - whose HIV was eradicated by a similar transplant treatment in 2007.

"The treatment we used was different from that used on the Berlin Patient, because it did not involve radiotherapy". "Single allo-HSCT with homozygous CCR5Δ32 donor cells may be sufficient to achieve HIV-1 remission with reduced intensity conditioning and no irradiation, and the findings further support the development of HIV remission strategies based on preventing CCR5 expression", Eduardo Olavarria of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and colleagues wrote.

Gupta said the treatment is not appropriate for all patients, but it offers hope for a possible cure for everyone living with the disease.

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