Wednesday March 20, 2019

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)

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Good News! HIV Now Has A Cure Possible

The London man is HIV-free after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that made him resistant to HIV. His cancer has also gone into remission.

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Scientists have been searching for a cure for HIV/AIDS for close to 40 years. The director of UNAIDS called news that a man in London has been functionally cured of HIV a "breakthrough." VOA

An HIV-positive man in Britain has become the second known adult worldwide to be cleared of the AIDS virus. At a conference in Seattle, the U.N. agency leading the global effort to end AIDS said the agency is greatly encouraged by the possibility of an HIV-positive man being cured, but there is still a long way to go.

Scientists have been searching for a cure for HIV/AIDS for close to 40 years. The director of UNAIDS called news that a man in London has been functionally cured of HIV a “breakthrough.” Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general, made the announcement.

“The breakthrough gives us great hope for the future, but also shows how far we are from the point of ending AIDS with science, as well as the absolute importance to continue to focus on HIV prevention and treatment efforts,” he said.

The London man is HIV-free after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that made him resistant to HIV. His cancer has also gone into remission.

Professor Ravindra Gupta at University College London said the man is now off anti-AIDS medication.

“We waited 16 months before stopping in the post-transplant period just to make sure that the cancer was in remission, the patient was well and that the measures we had of the HIV reservoir in the body showed that there was very, very little virus there, if any at all,” he said.

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“We now have reason to believe that the Berlin patient was not a one-off case… meaning it is possible to nearly, or even completely, eliminate HIV from an infected person,” he said. Pixabay

Gupta hesitates to call it a cure, but this is the second patient to show no signs of the HIV virus after a similar stem cell transplant. The first man was an American treated in Berlin 12 years ago. Dr. Rowena Johnston, director of research at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, says this second success is significant.

“We now have reason to believe that the Berlin patient was not a one-off case… meaning it is possible to nearly, or even completely, eliminate HIV from an infected person,” he said.

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Just like the Berlin patient, Gupta says the British man who is being called the “London patient,” also received stem cells from a donor with a rare mutated gene called CCR5.

“If you transplant those cells into someone who already has HIV, you may protect those new cells from infection,” he said. (VOA)