A cure for HIV? London man may be second patient cured of the disease

Some 12 years ago, U.S. citizen Timothy Ray Brown was treated in Germany. Since then, he has seen no trace of HIV.

March 5, 2019 13:35
3D print of HIV surface protein gp120. An antibody also is attached at the top (green and blue). Whe

3D print of HIV surface protein gp120. An antibody also is attached at the top (green and blue). When antibodies stick to viruses, they may prevent or limit infection of host cells. . (photo credit: NIH)


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A man in London seems to be in long-term remission from HIV after receiving a virus-resistant stem cell transplant a year-and-a-half ago.

While scientists believe it is "premature” to call the treatment a cure, this comes over a decade after another patient was similarly "cured," according to the Washington Post.

Some 12 years ago, Timothy Ray Brown, a US citizen was treated for HIV in Germany. Since then, he has seen no trace of HIV, an infection that is known for its ability to lead to AIDS.

The London patient was also suffering from Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he received the stem-cell treatment.

“I think this is really quite significant," said Daniel Kuritzkes, chief of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, to the Post. "It shows the Berlin patient was not just a one-off, that this is a rational approach in limited circumstances. Nobody doubted the truth of the report with the Berlin patient, but it was one patient. And which of the many things that were done to him contributed to the apparent cure? It wasn’t clear this could be reproduced.”

Kuritzkes was not involved in the study.

Researchers had tried to replicate the results of the Berlin patient, but had continually failed. Part of the reason is because of the rarity and risky nature of stem cell transplants, the Post reported. Several patients who had received similar treatments later died from cancer. But scientists believe this does not necessarily undermine these exciting results.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 36.9 million people were living with HIV by the end of 2017. According to the same report the most affected region in the world is WHO's Africa region with 25.7 million people living with HIV.

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