A London patient with the HIV virus has reportedly been cured of AIDS after a bone marrow transplant. He is only the second HIV-positive patient to be cured of the disease in medical history, reports NYTimes.
The “London patient” was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and has been on antiretrovirals since 2012, which only suppresses the virus. After being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a deadly cancer, he received the bone marrow transplant in 2016. The “London patient” received stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation of the CCR5 gene, making them HIV-resistant. The “London patient” came off the antiretroviral drugs that suppress HIV, 18 months ago, and has been virus-free ever since. Scientists now consider him cured and there seems to be no sign of a return of HIV.
Timothy Brown, the first patient to be supposedly cured from AIDS, underwent the same process which made him HIV-free. However, scientists are not yet hopeful that a cure has been found for the disease that affects more than 37 million people worldwide.
“There is no virus there that we can measure. We can’t detect anything,” said Ravindra Gupta, a HIV biologist and professor who co-led the team of doctors treating the patient. However, he cautioned that, “It’s too early to say he’s cured,” instead describing the patient as “functionally cured” and “in remission.”
Anton Pozniak, the president of the International Aids Society said the announcement marks a critical moment in the hunt for a cure. “The hope is that this will eventually lead to a safe, cost-effective and easy strategy to achieve these results using gene technology or antibody techniques,” said Anton.
Sharon Lewin, co-chair of the International AIDS Society cure research advisory board and an expert at Australia’s Doherty Institute said “We haven’t cured HIV, but this gives us hope that it’s going to be feasible one day to eliminate the virus.”
The “London patient” will have his case presented at a medical conference in Seattle on Tuesday. The patient requested complete anonymity. The following results narrow the search for a cure for the disease and keep medical professionals hopeful for the existence of a cure.