Monday April 22, 2019

‘Successful’ Treatment: Man Free Of The AIDS Virus After A Stem Cell Ttransplant

Stem cell transplants typically are harsh procedures which start with radiation or chemotherapy to damage the body's existing immune system and make room for a new one.

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HIV
Shown March 4, 2019, in Seattle, Timothy Brown is the first person to be cured of HIV infection, more than a decade ago. Researchers now say a second patient has lived 18 months after stopping HIV treatment without sign of the virus following a stem-cell transplant. VOA

A London man appears to be free of the AIDS virus after a stem cell transplant, the second success including the “Berlin patient,” doctors reported.

The therapy had an early success with Timothy Ray Brown, a U.S. man treated in Germany who is 12 years post-transplant and still free of HIV. Until now, Brown is the only person thought to have been cured of infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

 

The latest case “shows the cure of Timothy Brown was not a fluke and can be recreated,” said Dr. Keith Jerome of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle who had no role. He added that it could lead to a simpler approach that could be used more widely.

The case was published online Monday by the journal Nature and will be presented at an HIV conference in Seattle.

The patient has not been identified. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started taking drugs to control the infection in 2012. It’s unclear why he waited that long. He developed Hodgkin lymphoma that year and agreed to a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer in 2016.

AIDS
Usually, HIV patients expect to stay on daily pills for life to suppress the virus. When drugs are stopped, the virus roars back, usually in two to three weeks. VOA

With the right kind of donor, his doctors figured, the London patient might get a bonus beyond treating his cancer: a possible HIV cure.

Doctors found a donor with a gene mutation that confers natural resistance to HIV. About 1 percent of people descended from northern Europeans have inherited the mutation from both parents and are immune to most HIV. The donor had this double copy of the mutation.

That was “an improbable event,” said lead researcher Ravindra Gupta of University College London. “That’s why this has not been observed more frequently.”

The transplant changed the London patient’s immune system, giving him the donor’s mutation and HIV resistance.
The patient voluntarily stopped taking HIV drugs to see if the virus would come back.

Usually, HIV patients expect to stay on daily pills for life to suppress the virus. When drugs are stopped, the virus roars back, usually in two to three weeks.

Drugs
The patient has not been identified. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started taking drugs to control the infection in 2012. VOA

That didn’t happen with the London patient. There is still no trace of the virus after 18 months off the drugs.

Brown said he would like to meet the London patient and would encourage him to go public because “it’s been very useful for science and for giving hope to HIV-positive people, to people living with HIV,” he told The Associated Press Monday.

Stem cell transplants typically are harsh procedures which start with radiation or chemotherapy to damage the body’s existing immune system and make room for a new one. There are complications too. Brown had to have a second stem cell transplant when his leukemia returned.

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Compared to Brown, the London patient had a less punishing form of chemotherapy to get ready for the transplant, didn’t have radiation and had only a mild reaction to the transplant.

Dr. Gero Hutter, the German doctor who treated Brown, called the new case “great news” and “one piece in the HIV cure puzzle.” (VOA)

Next Story

Parkinson Treatment Possible Through A Blood Pressure Drug

Felodipine was effective at reducing the build-up of "aggregates" in mice with the Huntington's and Parkinson's disease mutations and in the zebrafish dementia model. 

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blood pressure
"This is the first time that we're aware of that a study has shown that an approved drug can slow the build-up of harmful proteins in the brains of mice using doses aiming to mimic the concentrations of the drug seen in humans," said Professor Rubinsztein. Pixabay

Felodipine, a prescribed drug to treat high blood pressure, has shown promise against Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and forms of dementia in studies carried out in mice and zebrafish at the University of Cambridge.

In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists have shown in mice that felodipine may be a candidate for re-purposing.

A common feature of neurodegenerative diseases is the build-up of misfolded proteins.

drug

The hypertension drug was able to slow down progression of these potentially devastating conditions and “so we believe it should be trialled in patients,” he added. VOA

These proteins, such as huntingtin in Huntington’s disease and tau in some dementias, form “aggregates” that can cause irreversible damage to nerve cells in the brain.

A team led by Professor David Rubinsztein used mice that had been genetically modified to express mutations that cause Huntington’s disease or a form of Parkinson’s disease, and zebrafish that model a form of dementia.

Felodipine was effective at reducing the build-up of “aggregates” in mice with the Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease mutations and in the zebrafish dementia model.

The treated animals also showed fewer signs of the diseases.

“This is the first time that we’re aware of that a study has shown that an approved drug can slow the build-up of harmful proteins in the brains of mice using doses aiming to mimic the concentrations of the drug seen in humans,” said Professor Rubinsztein.

The hypertension drug was able to slow down progression of these potentially devastating conditions and “so we believe it should be trialled in patients,” he added.

brain

These proteins, such as huntingtin in Huntington’s disease and tau in some dementias, form “aggregates” that can cause irreversible damage to nerve cells in the brain.
Pixabay

In healthy individuals, the body uses a mechanism to prevent the build-up of such toxic materials.

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This mechanism is known as autophagy, or ‘self-eating’, and involves cells eating and breaking down the materials.

“This is only the first stage, though. The drug will need to be tested in patients to see if it has the same effects in humans as it does in mice. We need to be cautious, but I would like to say we can be cautiously optimistic,” said Professor Rubinsztein. (IANS)