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London patient second adult cleared of HIV as doctors replicate possible cure

A London man with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) might have become the second known adult in the world to be cleared of the infection after a decade.

Twelve years after  doctors have consistently tried to replicate the procedure that lead to the first  similar cure of Timothy Brown an American dubbed ‘the Berlin patient,’doctors claim a possible breakthrough in finally finding a permanent cure to the virus.

The milestone came about three years after the patient now referred to as the ‘London patient’ received bone marrow stem cells from an HIV-resistant donor and about a year and a half after coming off antiretroviral drugs. The patient was receiving the bone marrow transplant for cancer.

With hopes high on the possible end to the quest for a cure for the disease, doctors cautioned against calling the patient’s results a cure for HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Ravindra Gupta, an HIV biologist who helped treat the man, said that his patient is “in remission” but warned that it’s “too early to say he’s cured.”

Dr. Annemarie Wensing a virologist at the University Medical Centre Utrecht, also said that the progress “Will inspire people that cure for the disease is not just a dream.”

After Brown’s case, scientists tried for 12 years to copy the result with other HIV-positive cancer patients. The London patient, who had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, is the first adult to be cleared of HIV since Brown.

According to the CNN, Dr. Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and a professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne, said the long remission seen in the London patient is “exciting.”

“Coming 10 years after the successful report of the Berlin Patient, this new case confirms that bone marrow transplantation from a CCR5-negative donor can eliminate residual virus and stop any traces of virus from rebounding,” said Lewin, who was not involved in the new case study. “Two factors are likely at play: The new bone marrow is resistant to HIV, and also, the new bone marrow is actively eliminating any HIV-infected cells,” he said,

About 37 million people worldwide have HIV, and the AIDS virus has killed about 35 million since the 1980’s.

Scientists who have studied the London patient are expected to publish a report Tuesday in the journal Nature. They also plan to present details in Seattle at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, which began Monday.

 

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