Second person cured of HIV in major medical breakthrough

London man becomes second in world to be cured of HIV

Ten years after the first confirmed case of an HIV-infected person being rid of the deadly disease, a man known only as the "London patient" has shown no sign of the virus for almost 19 months, they reported in the journal Nature.

SEATTLE (AP) - A London man appears to be free of the virus that causes AIDS after a stem cell transplant, the second success including the "Berlin patient," doctors reported.

Doctors say they have sent a second HIV patient into what might be permanent remission using a stem cell transplant.

This latest development is obviously big news for researchers hoping to cure HIV on a larger scale, but this particular case was extremely unique. 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.

Although the finding is exciting, it is not offering up a new treatment for the millions of people around the world living with HIV.

The so-called "London patient", who remains anonymous, underwent stem cell transplantation to treat Hodgkin lymphoma in May 2016.

Timothy Brown, said to be the first person to "beat" HIV/Aids, was given two transplants and total body irradiation (radiotherapy) for leukaemia - a much more aggressive treatment.

The man, who has been dubbed the "London patient," is the second person to receive the treatment.

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Gupta described his patient as "functionally cured" and "in remission", but cautioned, "It's too early to say he's cured". He is tested often, and his HIV viral load is undetectable.

"If we are going to talk about remission and getting people off of ART (antiretroviral treatment) for life, then targeting CCR5 therapeutically is an option that we need to explore further", University of Cambridge professor and lead author of the Nature study, Ravindra Gupta, told AFP.

The important point here is that it had been assumed that there might be something special about the Berlin patient, but now "we know it is reproducible", said Hütter, who was not involved in the London patient's treatment.

"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". The decision to use HIV-resistant cells at the time was based on a paper published a decade before about people who naturally produce these cells - about one percent of Europeans. "Nobody doubted the truth of the report with the Berlin patient, but it was one patient - and which of the many things that were done to him contributed to the apparent cure?"

According to experts, Brown has been living in the USA, and is still free of the disease.

Only one other patient who has been cured from HIV is Timothy Ray Brown from Berlin.

"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. Notable differences were that the Berlin Patient was given two transplants and underwent total body irradiation, while the United Kingdom patient received just one transplant and less intensive chemotherapy.

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