Doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to HIV.
Nearly 12 years after the first known patient to reportedly be cured of HIV, scientists believe there is another. The patient has been in remission for 18 months despite not having taken anti-retroviral medications, indicating that the intervention might have cured the disease.
Previous patient: This new study, reported in Nature, demonstrates that the previous case of Timothy Brown (aka the "Berlin patient") who was cured of HIV in 2007 through a similar treatment, was not an anomaly.
Unlike Brown, though, the London patient did not have to go through a horrific, near-death experience to reap the benefits of the therapy. Later that year he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and needed chemotherapy.
The researchers caution that the approach is not appropriate as a standard HIV treatment due to the toxicity of chemotherapy, but it offers hope for new treatment strategies that might eliminate HIV altogether.
A United Kingdom patient's HIV has become "undetectable" following a stem cell transplant - in only the second case of its kind, doctors report in Nature.More news: 'Happy thoughts' helped lost California girls survive ordeal
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The latest case "shows the cure of Timothy Brown was not a fluke and can be recreated", said Dr. Keith Jerome of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who had no role. About 37 million people around the world have the viral infection. To treat the cancer, the London patient agreed to a treatment called a stem cell transplant. "After 10 years of not being able to replicate (the first case), people were wondering if this was a fluke", said lead author Ravindra Gupta, a professor at the University of Cambridge.
Experts who study AIDS say the success of the Berlin patient and the London patient is very important.
The transplant, in other words, changed the key on the lock, and the virus could no longer get in. Scientists have wondered, however, whether this good fortune could be shared around by injecting stem cells from people with two Δ32 copies into HIV patients.
Researchers are developing better antiretroviral treatments, prevention methods, and vaccines to halt infections while continuing to pursue a cure for those already infected. After two bone marrow transplants, Brown was considered cured of his HIV-1 infection. He is being called "the London patient" because he was treated in the British capital.
A technician picks up a test tube filled with blood. The gene is known to create a protein that is crucial for HIV to invade blood cells.
Wensing heads a consortium of European scientists who work with stem cells transplanted into patients with HIV in attempts to find a cure, according to TheNYT. But with the mutated CCR5, Brown's immune cells became molecular fortresses that HIV couldn't penetrate - which meant the transplant essentially cured him of his infection. The caveat to the terms is that there have only ever been two cases of the phenomenon throughout medical history, so they're simply unsure what the right terminology is as yet.