Second Patient Cleared of HIV After StemCell Therapy


first_img A second person appears to be in remission from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after receiving a stem-cell transplant first used a decade ago.Experts from the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford replaced the patient’s white blood cells with HIV-resistant versions from a rare donor.Following a successful transplant, a male patient in the UK—whose identity has not been disclosed—was able to stop taking antiretroviral drugs (ARV, the standard treatment for HIV). Eighteen months later, there was still no sign of the virus.The same stem-cell technique was used 10 years ago on Timothy Ray Brown, known as the “Berlin patient.” The latest patient, diagnosed with HIV in 2003, suffered from advanced Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of blood cancer that wasn’t responding to chemotherapy.Like Brown, he required a bone-marrow transplant, in which blood cells are destroyed and replenished with those from a healthy donor.The medical team, led by Ravindra Gupta, an infectious disease physician at Cambridge, described the results in a paper published this week by the journal Nature.“At the moment the only way to treat HIV is with medications that suppress the virus, which people need to take for their entire lives, posing a particular challenge in developing countries,” Gupta said in a statement.“Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global priority,” he continued. “But is particularly difficult because the virus integrates into the white blood cells of its host.”Nearly 37 million people worldwide live with HIV, yet only 59 percent receive ARV.It’s too early to say whether the patient has been “cured.” That, according to Gupta, can only be demonstrated if his blood remains HIV-free for longer. Eighteen months after ending ARV therapy, though, there were no signs of the virus returning.Which is great news for the unnamed man, who, one can only hope, has a new lease on life. Heck, maybe he’ll team up with Brown for a buddy cop show.“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 approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people,” Gupta said.Not everyone can be so lucky, though. (If you consider it lucky to have cancer that requires a sometimes-fatal bone-marrow transplant.)Researchers caution that this specific approach is not sustainable as a standard HIV treatment.“If you’re well, the risk of having a bone-marrow transplant is far greater than the risk of staying on tablets every day,” Graham Cooke, a clinical researcher at Imperial College London, said.Folks in need of a transplant to nurse leukemia or other diseases, however, may want to look into a donor with the CCR5 mutation, which Cooke said won’t add any risk to the procedure.More on Editor CRISPR Targets AIDS Virus HIVAn HIV Vaccine Inches CloserFDA Warns Against Young Blood Transfusions As Medical TreatmentHow the AIDS Crisis Influenced Science Fiction CRISPR-Modified Babies Cursed With Short LifespanRogue Scientist Defends Gene-Edited Babies Stay on targetlast_img

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