U.S. AIDS activists said on Tuesday they were encouraged by news that a patient in London became the second known person to be cleared of the deadly HIV infection but warned that the development is only one more step in a decades-long battle. Both men received stem cells from donors with an uncommon gene mutation known as CCR5-delta-32 that makes T cells resistant to most HIV.
While the transplants are considered unsafe as it had failed it others, experts say the donor had double copies of the mutation, making this truly a miracle for the London patient! "But it is too early to see as to whether this is a cure or not", said Prof. "I never thought that there would be a cure during my lifetime". "It's great to have an addition to my family - I consider him my sibling and I can't wait to meet him".
Nearly a million people still die every year from AIDS. VOA
The anonymous "London patient" appears to have been infection-free for the past year and a half, after receiving a bone marrow transplant for cancer. Doctors searched an worldwide registry to find a donor with a double CCR5-delta-32 mutation who was a good enough match. A conditioning regimen, which may include chemotherapy and radiation to the entire body, prepares a patient to accept a stem cell treatment, such as a bone marrow transplant, by making room for the new stem cells.
"Stem cell transplants are an established treatment, particularly for blood related cancer with 70 per cent success rate".
He and others said the London Patient's case does, however, underline that in this approach, two factors combined are crucial - the CCR5 genetic resistance, plus its delivery to all cells, including immune cells. These drugs halt HIV from replicating and allow an infected person to regain a functioning immune system.
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The man stopped antiretroviral therapy in a carefully monitored analytic treatment interruption 16 months after the transplant. "They would ideally try to take these mutated proteins, CCR5s, and inject them into people with HIV with the hopes that once they have this mutated CCR5 their HIV won't be able to attach to the immune cells anymore".
A research paper led by UCL and Imperial College London has reported that a patient treated with stem cell transplant has been in remission from HIV for 18 months and is no longer taking HIV drugs.
He is only the second person documented to be in sustained remission without ARV. "There's always a small chance that virus could come back, but I think that most of us are optimistic that will not happen".
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It goes without saying, many people are excited by the new breakthrough in the fight against HIV, including President Donald Trump.
The world is raising its hopes of finding a cure to the deadly HIV/AIDS virus following reports that a man has been cleared of the virus.
On top of that, there's the need to find a genetically matching donor - which is rare - along with the risk that the transplanted cells will not grow properly and the procedure could fail entirely, adds McGowan.
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"amfAR is working on the next steps as quickly and efficiently as we can", said Dr. Marcella Flores, Associate Director of Research with amfAR.