Published: Wed, March 06, 2019
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

'London patient’s' HIV remission brings hope to millions

'London patient’s' HIV remission brings hope to millions

Reuters reports that the man, whose identity has not been revealed, has tested negative for the virus nearly three years after he received a bone marrow transplant from a donor with an HIV-resistant genetic mutation.

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, doctors reported in the journal Nature.

Speaking to Reuters, Gupta clarified that it is still too early to say that the man is actually permanently virus-free, but that he is "functionally cured" and "in remission." .

The male London patient, who has not been named, was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2012.

A color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph shows HIV particles (orange) infecting a T cell, one of the white blood cells that play a central role in the immune system.

After examining over and over the "London patient's" blood to look for H.I.V., the scientists could not find any circulating virus.

Can bone marrow transplants eliminate HIV for a large number of people?

The London, U.K. patient has not been identified.

The London patient, whose case is set to be presented at a medical conference in Seattle on Tuesday, has asked his medical team not to reveal his name, age, nationality or other details.

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But a reservoir of cells carrying HIV can still remain in the body, in a resting state, for many years.

In these two cases, doctors selected a donor who had an uncommon mutation that made them virtually immune to HIV infection and this mutation was passed on to the recipient.

He underwent a so-called haematopoietic stem cell transplant in 2016 from a donor with two copies of a CCR5 gene variant, a combination carried by about one percent of the world population. He has been in remission ever since and is said to be the first person in the world to have been cured of HIV.

The male patient has achieved "sustained remission" from HIV after being treated at Hammersmith Hospital in west London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said. But such transplants are unsafe, can not be used widely and have failed in other patients.

The circumstances of this cure do not apply to those of us who have been living with a HIV diagnosis for many years; the risks involved are too great.

During chemotherapy treatment for cancer, stem cells were implanted into the man from a donor resistant to HIV, which lead to both his cancer and HIV going into remission.

"Coming 10 years after the successful report of the Berlin Patient, this new case confirms that bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5-negative donor can eliminate residual virus and stop any traces of virus from rebounding", she said. "The hope is that this will eventually lead to a safe, cost-effective and easy strategy.using gene technology or antibody techniques".

The only previous patient to be cured of the virus was Timothy Ray Brown, an American known as the "Berlin patient". The London patient is one of 40 in the study.

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