Advances in stem cell treatment give hope to millions with 'incurable' diseases

London man becomes second in world to be cured of HIV

It's been 18 months since the patient last took his antiretroviral drugs.

But the team emphasized that it is too early to say with certainty that the patient has been cured of HIV, and that they will continue to monitor the patient's condition.

He's being the only one thought to have been cured of HIV.

The male patient in Britain was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and on antiretroviral therapy since 2012, according to the report.

Scientists say they may have cured a man of HIV by performing a stem-cell transplant to treat his cancer.

University College London (UCL) researchers made the announcement at the CROI in Seattle, US.

The patient has been in remission for 19 months, the International AIDS Society said in a statement.

The first recipient, Timothy Brown, gained fame as the so-called Berlin patient after transplants in 2007 and 2008 rid him of HIV. That's key because HIV uses that receptor to gain entry into the cells.

Close to 37 million people are living with HIV worldwide, but only 59 per cent are receiving ARV, and drug-resistant HIV is a growing concern. Chemotherapy can be effective against HIV as it kills cells that are dividing.

Brown, now 52, reportedly lives in Palm Springs, California and is still clear of HIV to this day.




But researchers do hope that shutting down the CCR5 gene could offer a way to cure HIV in adults who are infected.

But he added: "The treatment is not appropriate as a standard HIV treatment because of the toxicity of chemotherapy, which in this case was required to treat the lymphoma". Individuals with 2 copies of this genetic mutation are resistant to HIV infection, as the mutation prevents expression of the virus. "This means the virus can not get into the cells".

Doctors point out that the interventions would not necessarily work for all HIV patients and that the CCR5-negative stem cells used in this case are extremely rare. More than 38,000 Americans were diagnosed with HIV past year, and 6,160 deaths in the United States in 2016 were directly attributed to HIV.

The UK researchers say it may be possible to use gene therapy to target the CCR5 receptor in people with HIV, now they know the Berlin patient's recovery was not a one-off.

"This is a very interesting and encouraging result; however we need to be cautious for a number of reasons", said UNSW's Kirby Institute director Professor Anthony Kelleher.

Both the London patient and those now being monitored, he adds, "help us understand how we can overcome the virus and design a true cure". The blood treatments the Berlin and London patients had have failed in other patients.

The study is to be published Tuesday in the journal Nature.

But he said much longer follow-up would be needed to ensure the virus did not re-emerge at a later stage.

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.

While there isn't a hundred percent guarantee, the London patient has been off his medication for a year without any sign of the virus making a comeback. The experiment, which is under investigation and does not even appear to have succeeded at creating the desired deletion in twin girls, was widely condemned as unethical, a premature and reckless use of an unproven technology and medically unnecessary because of a multitude of other ways to prevent HIV transmission.

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