Twelve years after its initial occurrence, it appears as though a second patient has been cured of an H.I.V. infection, the virus that causes AIDS, according to The New York Times. Both milestones were the result of intended cancer treatments, more specifically bone marrow transplants.
While scientists and researchers alike warn that bone marrow transplantation is unlikely to become a common form of H.I.V. treatment, it gives those battling it a hope that an effective cure can be developed.
“This will inspire people that cure is not a dream,” Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht and co-leader of IciStem, a European consortium studying stem cell transplants to treat H.I.V. infection, said. “It’s reachable.”
The patient, wishing to retain his anonymity and referred to by scientists as the “London patient”, described learning he could be cured of both cancer and H.I.V. as “surreal” and “overwhelming.”
“I never thought there’d be a cure in my lifetime,” he said.
Similar to the first man cured of H.I.V., originally referred to as the “Berlin patient” and later identified as Timothy Ray Brown, the London patient received a bone marrow transplant with a H.I.V.-resistant CCR5 protein mutation called delta 32. He also received immunosuppressive drugs.
“He quit taking anti-H.I.V. drugs in September 2017, making him the first patient since Mr. Brown known to remain virus-free for more than a year after stopping,” Apoorva Mandavilli reported.
IciStem is tracking 38 H.I.V.-infected patients who have received bone marrow transplants, including six from donors without the mutation. The London patient is just one of the patients on this list, but another individuals, referred to as the “Dusseldorf patient”, has been off anti-H.I.V. drugs for four months.
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