London patient may be second person to be cured of HIV

London: According to a case study published in the journal Nature, a second person has experienced sustained remission from HIV-1.

Some scientists believe that the ‘London patient’, as he is being called, has been cured of the viral infection, which affects close to 37 million people worldwide, reported CNN.

The new case report comes more than 10 years after the ‘Berlin patient.’ Both patients were treated with stem cell transplants from donors who carried a rare genetic mutation, known as CCR5-delta 32, that made them resistant to HIV.

The London patient has been in remission for 18 months since he stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.

Speaking about the study, lead author Ravindra Gupta said, “By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin Patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people.”

According to Gupta, the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies. He and his colleagues will continue to monitor the man’s condition, as it is still too early to say he has been cured of HIV.

Gupta’s patient, a male resident of UK, who prefers to remain anonymous, was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and began antiretroviral therapy in 2012. Later, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Post chemotherapy, he underwent a stem cell transplant in 2016 and subsequently remained on antiretroviral therapy for 16 months. To test whether he was truly in HIV-1 remission, the London patient disrupted his usual
antiretroviral therapy. He has now been in remission for 18 months, and regular testing has confirmed that his HIV viral load remains undetectable.

Similarly, Timothy Ray Brown, the Berlin Patient, has remained the only person cured of HIV until the new London patient.

Dr. Gero Hütter, who treated the Berlin patient and is now medical director at Cellex Collection Center in Dresden, Germany, said in an email to CNN that the treatment used for the London patient is “comparable” to the one he pioneered.