Around 16 months after the London Patient received the CCR5 stem cells, doctors discontinued his antiretroviral treatments, and 18 months down the line, the man's remission persists. The case of the so-called "Dusseldorf patient" was reported at a scientific conference this week, but doctors said their remission is still at an early stage.
A man identified only as the "London patient" has become the second person ever to be declared cured of HIV.
This week a team of scientists and physicians from the United Kingdom published news of a second HIV positive man, in London, who is in long-term (18-month) HIV remission after undergoing treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma.
This announcement at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle comes just two days after the second person in history was announced to be HIV-free on Monday, March 4. This patient has only been HIV-free for 3.5 months and therefore calls for even more skepticism.
"Besides, there are different subtypes of HIV, which require different coreceptors to produce an infection", he said. Doctors do not know whether he was infected with this type of the virus after the treatment or whether some patients harbor a small number of X4 viruses that start to multiply when other types of HIV are not present. While the debate over whether to call it a cure continues, experts believe that the fact that Brown now has some company is good for the future of HIV research. He developed cancer and agreed to a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer in 2016.
"The stem cell transplant primarily involves reprogramming the immune system to be HIV-resistant".
Walker said another positive sign with this second cure is that in the first case, the transplant nearly killed the patient, but in this case, it did not.
"It's a very risky procedure, it's a very expensive procedure, and it's not a procedure we would give to somebody with chronic HIV which was been well treated and is otherwise healthy", he said. "Other HIV coreceptors exist besides CCR5, so such a method will not be effective in treating HIV if the virus infects through other coreceptors", he said. Additional follow-up research must be done to insure that the new bone marrow produced reconstitutes the patient's immune system with the CCR5 genetic mutation so that HIV treatment can be stopped. People with HIV are sometimes more susceptible to the development of cancers, but only a minority of people living with HIV have cancer. HIV has become a chronic condition in which progression to AIDS is increasingly rare.
The London patient is one of 38 patients given bone marrow treatment, including six who used donors without the mutation, that a group of researchers is following.
There are now around 37 million people living with HIV worldwide, and the virus claims around 1 million lives annually. Add to this that only about one percent of Caucasians are CCR5 negative-this being a mutation that only appears in European bloodlines-and it quickly becomes apparent that we can not feasibly use stem cell transplants to make every person with HIV enter remission.
Most importantly, the HIV community learned that Brown's case was not unique.