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HIV-cure man giving hope to many millions

A MAN in Britain has become the second-known adult worldwide to be cleared of the HIV virus after receiving a

bone-marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, his doctors revealed.

Almost three years after receiving bone-marrow stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection, and more than 18 months after he came off

anti-retroviral drugs, highly-sensitive tests still show no trace of the man’s previous HIV infection.

“There is no virus there that we can measure,” said Ravindra Gupta, the professor and HIV biologist, who co-led a team of doctors treating the man “We can’t detect anything,”.

He described his patient as “functionally cured and in remission”, but cautioned: “It’s too early to say he’s cured.”

The man is being called “the London patient”, in part because his case is similar to the first-known case of a functional cure of HIV.

American Timothy Brown, “the Berlin patient”, who had similar treatment in Germany in 2007, which also cleared his HIV, leaving him still free of the virus.

Gupta, now at Cambridge University, treated the London patient when he was working at the city’s University College. The man had contracted HIV in 2003, said Gupta said, and was also diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012.

Four years later, when he was extremely ill with cancer, doctors decided to seek a transplant match for him. “This was really his last chance of survival,” said Professor Gupta. The donor who was unrelated, had a genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta 32, which confers resistance to HIV.

The transplant went relatively smoothly, said Gupta, but there were some side-effects, including the patient suffering a period of “graft-versus-host” disease.

That is a condition in which donor immune cells attack the recipient’s immune cells. Most experts say it is unlikely that such treatments could be a way of curing all patients. And anyway, the procedure is expensive, complex and risky.

Exact-match donors would have to be found in the tiny proportion of people, most of them of northern European descent, who have the CCR5 mutation.

Specialists said it was not yet clear whether the CCR5 resistance was the only key, or whether the graft-versus-host disease might have been just as important.

The Berlin and London patients both had this complication, which may have played a role in the loss of HIV-infected cells, said the Professor, adding that his team planned to use these findings to explore potential HIV treatment strategies.

“We need to understand if we could knock out this [CCR5] receptor in people with HIV, which may be possible with gene therapy,” he said.

The London patient, whose case will be reported in the Nature journal, and was presented at a medical conference in Seattle last week, has asked his medical team not to reveal his name, age, nationality or other details.

The Aids pandemic has killed about 35 million people worldwide since it was recognised in the 1980s, and some 37 million people are infected with HIV.

 

Short URL: http://www.canarianweekly.com/?p=46612

Posted by on Mar 15 2019. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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