London Patient Free Of AIDS Virus After Transplant, Doctors Cautioned Too Early To Say He Is Cured
March 5th, 2019 / 6:11 PM
A man in Britain has become the second person to be cleared of the HIV after he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor, reported The Guardian. He had received the bone marrow stem cells from a donor three years ago with a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection. A British study published on March 5 in the science journal Nature said that after 18 months of quitting antiretroviral drugs, a highly sensitive test shows that the man has no trace of his previous HIV infection.
Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who co-led the team of doctors treating the man said, “There is no virus there that we can measure. We can’t detect anything”. He also said that his patient is “functionally cured” and “in remission”. He further added that it is too early to say that he is cured.
The patient is being called “the London patient” because his case is similar to the first known case of a functional cure of HIV. The first person, an American citizen, Timothy Brown was called “the Berlin Patient” as he underwent his treatment in Germany in 2007. He also received a bone marrow transplant of stem cells from a donor with two copies of the mutation of the gene CCR5. As of now, he is still HIV-free.
Gupta who is now at Cambridge University, treated the London patient when he was working at University College London. The man had contracted HIV in 2003 and was also diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2016, when he was ill with cancer, doctors as the last chance of survival decided to find a transplant match for him. They found a donor who was unrelated and had a genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta 32. This genetic mutation resists HIV. Gupta said that the transplant procedure was smooth. However, the patient suffered a period of “graft-versus-host” disease in which donor immune cells attack the recipient’s immune cells.
Most experts say that the treatment used in case of “the London patient” and “the Berlin patient” is risky, complicated and expensive. To find exact match donor in the tiny proportion is a difficult task. The experts are yet to understand that whether the CCR5 resistance is the actual reason that is curing the HIV aids virus or is it the graft-versus-host disease. Gupta said that the team had planned to use the recent findings to explore potential HIV treatment strategies.
The Logical Indian Take
Though the world has witnessed some critical advancement in the medical sector, certain diseases are still worrying the doctors and patients. One such disease is HIV-AIDS, which is a complex disease that has killed 35 million people worldwide since it began in the 1980s. Doctors have come up with various drug combinations that can keep it at bay in most patients. This new treatment, though a risky one is a new ray of hope for a large number of people. We hope that this treatment help more and more people to get cured of this fatal disease.
Written by : Debarghya Sil
Edited by : Bharat Nayak