London patient becomes second adult to be 'functionally cured' of HIV

London patient becomes second adult to be 'functionally cured' of HIV

The case was published online by the journal Nature and will be presented at an HIV conference in Seattle. Effectively, some scientists believe that the "London patient" has been cured of the viral infection, which affects close to 37 million people worldwide.

This approach led to the remarkable case in 2007 where Timothy Ray Brown, known as the "Berlin Patient," was functionally cured of an HIV infection he had had for at least 13 years.

"While there are important limitations to applying this study to a HIV cure globally, this second documented case does reinforce the message that HIV cures are possible".

There are now 37 million people infected with HIV, 21 million are on antiretroviral treatment, but drug-resistant strains are becoming more widespread.

This suggestion that HIV might be curable has fuelled research into a cure for HIV, including the IAS's efforts, Towards an HIV Cure, established in 2012.

According to experts, the London Patient was stopped from taking antiretroviral drugs 19 months ago, with "no viral rebound".

Gero Hütter, the German hematologist who treated Timothy Ray Brown, said: "By repeating the procedure in another patient, there is more evidence that the "Berlin patient" is not a sole exception".

Using bone marrow transplants to cure HIV in everyone who has the virus, though, remains impractical, expensive, and risky.

But researchers do hope that shutting down the CCR5 gene could offer a way to cure HIV in adults who are infected.

The man, known as the "London patient" was being treated for advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma-a type of cancer that affects the blood.

The transplant changed the man's immune system, giving him the donor's mutation and HIV resistance.

The researchers say it is too early to say the patient is "cured" of HIV.

In the meantime, he said the focus needed to be on diagnosing HIV promptly and starting patients on lifelong combination antiretroviral therapy.

Pozniak was commenting in the aftermath of the news that a London patient appears to have been cured of HIV after a bone marrow transplant from a donor with a special genetic mutation.

Professor Ravindra Gupta is a virologist at University College London. The patient remained on anti-HIV drugs to prevent the virus from replicating for almost 1.5 years after the transplant; because HIV tends to hide in cells in a dormant phase and reactivate years later, Gupta wanted to be sure that as much of the virus as possible was destroyed with the drugs. "At the moment the procedure still carries too much risk to be used in patients who are otherwise well, as daily tablet treatment for HIV is usually able to maintain patient's long-term health".

The patient, who prefers to remain anonymous, remains HIV-free to date. But the transplants were meant to treat cancer in the patients, not HIV.

"There are actually many strategies right now that are currently being pursued", Henrich said.

Scientists are also examining immune modifying therapies. "So while it's truly aspirational, I wouldn't say it's out of the realm of possibility".

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