Previous patient: This new study, reported in Nature, demonstrates that the previous case of Timothy Brown (aka the "Berlin patient") who was cured of HIV in 2007 through a similar treatment, was not an anomaly.
For this reason, he's often described as being the first patient "cured" of HIV, although technically that's incorrect, since remission and cures are not the same thing (as sometimes remissions are not complete, if the viral load stages a resurgence). Treating an HIV patient with bone marrow stem cells from someone with the beneficial mutation means finding a person that matches the recipient's biology and also happens to have the rare mutation.
"For hepatitis C, we can completely cure people of the virus so they're no longer infected".
The London patient, whose case is set to be presented at a medical conference in Seattle on Tuesday, has asked his medical team not to reveal his name, age, nationality or other details.
"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.
HIV experts said the importance of a second "cure" can't be underestimated.
The patient from London has not been named, and was first diagnosed with HIV in 2003, as well as advanced Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2012.
In the meantime, he said the focus needed to be on diagnosing HIV promptly and starting patients on lifelong combination antiretroviral therapy. As of 2017, there were approximately 36.9 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS. The donor had double copies of an uncommon gene mutation known as CCR5-delta-32 that results in missing CCR5 co-receptors on T cells, the gateway most types of HIV use to infect cells.
The treatment is risky, complex and expensive, researchers have said.
The patient has been in remission for 19 months, the International AIDS Society said in a statement. Brown, who required two transplants to cure his leukemia, had intensive chemical treatment and, on top of that, received whole body irradiation.
The therapy had an early success with Timothy Ray Brown, a USA man treated in Germany who is 12 years post-transplant and still free of HIV. More recently, researchers reported that a bone marrow transplant recipient in Minnesota had viral remission lasting almost 10 months after an analytic treatment interruption, but he too ultimately experienced viral rebound.
Timothy Henrich, a clinician at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has seen HIV bounce back in two patients who had a conditioning regimen that impressively knocked down HIV reservoirs but whose transplants came from donors with working CCR5s.
The case report is carried out by researchers at University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London, together with teams at the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford. The decision to use HIV-resistant cells at the time was based on a paper published a decade before about people who naturally produce these cells - about one percent of Europeans.