A man living in England who was HIV-positive has become the second adult worldwide to be cleared of the deadly virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant.
Nearly three years after receiving stem cells from a donor with a rare genetic mutation that resists the HIV virus, the man known as “the London patient,” shows no traces of his previous infection.
“There is no virus there that we can measure. We can’t detect anything,” Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who helps to treat the man told Reuters.
Gupta and his team say the man is “functionally cured” and “in remission” but warn it’s too early to call him fully cured. Doctors say however that this development has become a proof of concept that may lead to a future official cure to the virus.
Nearly 37 million individuals worldwide are currently infected with HIV. The AIDS epidemic has claimed 35 million lives worldwide since the 1980s.
The man is called the London patient because of similarities of his case to an American man by the name of Timothy Brown. Brown underwent similar treatment and got similar results in Germany in 2007. He became known as the Berlin patient.
The genetic mutation, known as “CCR5 delta 32,” occurs in a small percentage of people, mostly of northern European descent.
Experts say it is unlikely this procedure will lead to a mass cure for all patients living with HIV because it is costly, difficult and risky. However the hope, they say, is that it leads to a more cost-effective and easy treatment regimen.
Photo by C. Goldsmith Content Providers: CDC/ C via Wikimedia Commons