Published: Sat, March 09, 2019
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

Scientists Cure Man of HIV Using ‘Superpower’ Cells

Scientists Cure Man of HIV Using ‘Superpower’ Cells

The report describes a male patient in the United Kingdom, who prefers to remain anonymous, and was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and on antiretroviral therapy since 2012. AIDS research and human retroviruses, 2015. "The hope is that lessons can be learned to help develop more widely applicable therapeutic approaches for attaining HIV remissions or cures". Each year, almost 1 million people die from HIV-related causes.

FILE PHOTO: Buddhist monks light candles during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign on the occasion of World AIDS Day in Kolkata, India, December 1, 2018. His HIV has never returned. They're off HIV medications. "And when it was given to him in the transplant, the CCR5 mutated and the HIV wasn't able to reattach itself to the white blood cells". He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started taking drugs to control the infection in 2012.

News that a second person may have been "cured" demonstrates that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly.

Nevertheless, the second case of HIV remission may pave the way for researchers to find a cure for HIV infection.

This "graft versus host" effect is akin to a deadly battle of two immune systems, explained Steven Deeks, an HIV expert at the University of California. In 2007 he underwent a procedure known as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to treat leukemia, performed by a team of doctors in Berlin, Germany.

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.

Compared to Brown, the first H.I.V. -positive individual to enter long-term remission, the London patient has responded relatively well to his transplant.

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According to doctors, the person who had donated the stem cells to the London patient had a rare genetic mutation that can only be found in 1% of northern Europeans.

If left untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body which in turn, damages the immune system and makes it more hard for the body to fight off infections and some other diseases.

It goes without saying, many people are excited by the new breakthrough in the fight against HIV, including President Donald Trump.

Dr. Jared Baeten, a professor of global health at the University of Washington, said this case is a reminder of how far HIV research has come since the 1980s. Effectively, some scientists believe that the "London patient" has been cured of the viral infection, which affects close to 37 million people worldwide. Lower left panel shows the target for HIV, the CD4+ T-cell.

Even more incredible, besides the "London patient", another person, known as the "Düsseldorf patient", has also been off HIV drugs for four months. "We speculate that CCR5 gene therapy strategies using stem cells could conceivably be a scalable approach to remission", they said. Neither should anyone else. Also important: as a report in The New York Times pointed out, the London Patient was not the first attempt to replicate the success with the Berlin Patient, only the first that seems to have not failed.

Most importantly, the HIV community learned that Brown's case was not unique.

Stigma and discrimination against HIV, continue to hold back key vulnerable population groups such as sex-workers, transgender people, intravenous drug users and migrants, and only one in four, living with HIV, are aware of their status.

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