Second patient reportedly cured of HIV in big milestone for AIDS treatment

Almost three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells, and more than 18 months after coming off antiretroviral drugs - highly sensitive tests still show no trace of the man's previous HIV infection. Brown before him, both received stem-cell transplants from donors who had two copies of a key mutation to a gene called CCR5.

The anonymous London man was tested by doctors who said the virus was undetected in the man's system even though he has been off of the antiretroviral therapy for 18 months.

A London patient has become the second known man to be cleared of AIDS virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor, according to his doctor.

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.

Still, HIV has proven before to be a wily shapeshifter, and except for Brown, people who previously went in remission for various reasons for a year or so have always seen their virus start to replicate again.

"This is the second reported case of prolonged remission off antiretroviral therapy (ART) post bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5 negative donor", IAS President Anton Pozniak said.

Dr. Gupta from University College London has stated that the two rounds of successful treatment prove that the Berlin patient "was not an anomaly".

CCR5 is the most commonly used receptor by HIV-1. The team also found that his white blood cells now can not be infected with CCR5-dependent HIV strains, indicating the donor's cells had engrafted. The longer treatment is delayed, the greater the chance that HIV can also mutate to use CXCR4 and CCR5 to infect cells. Essentially, the mutation prevents HIV from being able to get inside people's cells, so it can not cause infection. He has been in remission ever since and is said to be the first person in the world to have been cured of HIV.

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The results of the efforts that cured the "London patient" are to appear in the journal Nature; the scientists will offer details at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.

Regular testing has confirmed that the patient's viral load remained undetectable since then.

The only other person to successfully undergo the experimental bone marrow transplant procedure is American Timothy Brown, who is still HIV-free after his treatment in 2007. Brown is thus far the only adult who has been cured of HIV.

Possibly. The London patient's immune system is now created to block HIV's most common path into cells, using the CCR5 receptor. Beforehand, each had been treated with toxic chemicals in a "conditioning" regimen meant to kill off their existing cancerous bone marrow cells.

Choosing to describe the patient as "functionally cured", he said, "there is no virus there that we can measure".

What keeps them hopeful is the fact that in this case, the patient was "cured" of both cancer and AIDS.

Brown hopes that the "London patient" will survive as long as he has.

The London Patient was given stem cells from a donor with genetic resistance to the disease.

  • Ismael Montgomery