Tuesday January 21, 2020

Stem Cells May Have Cured Second Man of HIV

Despite various attempts by scientists using the same approach, Brown had remained the only person cured of HIV until the new London patient

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A protester wearing a mask with the face of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is flanked by two fellow activists wearing angry face emoji masks, during a protest against Facebook policies, in London, Britain (From archives) VOA

A decade after an American was “first” cured of HIV using stem cell transplant, a British man has experienced sustained remission from the disease for over an year, after receiving a similar transplant of virus-resistant cells raising prospects of a cure, said doctors, including one of Indian-origin.

The new “London patient” — who prefers to remain anonymous — was treated with stem cell transplants from donors with a rare genetic mutation known as CCR5-delta 32, which made him resistant to HIV, just like the first cured case of Timothy Ray Brown, better known as the “Berlin patient”.

The “London patient” has been in remission for 18 months since he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs, according to the study published in the journal Nature.

“By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approached that eliminated HIV in these two people,” lead author Ravindra Gupta, Professor at University College London, was quoted as saying by CNN.

The method used may not be appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies, Gupta added.

The London patient is under observation, as it is still too early to say that he has been cured of HIV, the report said.

Nearly one million people die annually from HIV-related causes. Treatment for HIV, known as antiretroviral therapy, involves medications that suppress the virus, which people with HIV need to take for their entire lives.

The London patient was first diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and began antiretroviral therapy in 2012. Later, he was also diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma — cancer of the immune system.

Lingam is the symbol of Lord Shiva.
Lingam is the symbol of Lord Shiva.

After undergoing chemotherapy, he also underwent a stem cell transplant in 2016, and subsequently remained on antiretroviral drugs for 16 months.

Later, he went without drugs to test whether he was truly in HIV-1 remission.

The London patient has now been in remission for 18 months, and doctors have confirmed that his HIV viral load remains undetectable, the report said.

Similarly, the Berlin Patient had been living with HIV and routinely using antiretroviral drugs when he was diagnosed with a different disease called acute myeloid leukemia — cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

Also Read- Daily Consumption of Garlic, Onion Reduces Risk of Colon Cancer

After two bone marrow transplants, Brown was considered cured of his HIV-1 infection.

Traces of HIV were seen in Brown’s blood a few years after he stopped antiretroviral drugs. However, because the HIV remained undetectable, he is still considered clinically cured of his infection, according to his doctors.

Despite various attempts by scientists using the same approach, Brown had remained the only person cured of HIV until the new London patient, CNN reported. (IANS)

Next Story

Here’s how HIV Patients Lose Immunity to Smallpox Despite of Vaccinations

HIV patients lose smallpox immunity despite vaccine says a new study by health experts

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The study found the immune systems of HIV-positive women who were on antiretroviral therapy had a limited response when their blood was exposed to the vaccina virus. Pixabay

HIV patients lose immunity to smallpox even though they were vaccinated against the disease as children and have had much of their immune system restored with anti-retroviral therapy, says a new study.

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. It helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduces the risk of HIV transmission.

The study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases on HIV-associated immune amnesia could explain why people living with HIV still tend to have shorter lives on average than their HIV-negative counterparts despite being on antiretroviral therapy.

The study follows other research recently published in the journals Science and Science Immunology that found the immune systems of children who contracted measles similarly ‘forgot’ their immunity against other illnesses such as influenza.

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Researchers have found that HIV patients lose immunity to smallpox even though they were vaccinated against the disease. Pixabay

For the study, lead researcher Mark K. Slifka from Oregon Health and Science University in US, and his colleagues compared the T-cell and antibody responses of a total of 100 HIV-positive and HIV-negative women who were vaccinated against smallpox in their youth.

The research team chose smallpox because its last known US case was in 1949, meaning study participants haven’t recently been exposed to its virus, which would have triggered new T-cell and antibody responses.

They found the immune systems of HIV-positive women who were on antiretroviral therapy had a limited response when their blood was exposed to the vaccina virus, which is used in the smallpox vaccine.

Normally, those vaccinated against smallpox have CD4 T cells that remember the virus and respond in large numbers when they’re exposed again.

Previous research has shown smallpox virus-specific CD4 T cells are maintained for up to 75 years after vaccination.

This finding happened despite the fact that antiretroviral therapy works by boosting CD4 T cell counts in HIV-positive patients.

This indicates that while antiretroviral therapy may boost total T cell counts overall, it can’t recover virus-specific T cells generated from prior childhood vaccinations.

Also Read- HPV Vaccinations may Reduce Cervical Cancer Rate in Kenya

The research team plans to evaluate whether the same phenomenon occurs in HIV-infected men, and if people living with HIV also lose immune memory to other diseases.

Researchers from SUNY Downstate, Georgetown University, Cornell University, University of Southern California and John Hopkins University, also contributed to this study. (IANS)