Scientists Cure Man of HIV Using ‘Superpower’ Cells

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However, experts are enthusiastic about the promise that the cure of the London patient showed. He developed Hodgkin's lymphoma that year and agreed to a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer in 2016. He stopped taking HIV medication only 3.5 months ago while the "London patient", whose case was first reported on 4 March, has been off medication for 18 months.

"While it is too early to say with certainty that our patient is now cured of HIV, and doctors will continue to monitor his condition, the apparent success of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation offers hope in the search for a long-awaited cure for HIV/AIDS", said Olavarria.

About 37 million people worldwide are infected with HIV.

At a conference in Seattle, the United Nations agency leading the global effort to end AIDS said the agency is greatly encouraged by the possibility of an HIV-positive man being cured, but there is still a long way to go.

There are also a number of other HIV-positive patients who have had bone marrow transplants, including two patients who haven't yet come off their antiviral medications. Outlining possible explanations for these unsuccessful attempts, the Post's Johnson says that stem cell transplants are often used as a last resort, and only in cases where a clinical issue such as cancer is present.

To test whether he was truly in HIV-1 remission, the London patient disrupted his usual antiretroviral therapy.

The idea is to use an initial drug to flush out HIV that is hiding from the immune system and then use standard antiretrovirals to kill the newly-exposed virus.

Infection with HIV nearly always led to AIDS, which in turn was nearly always fatal.

As HIV researchers met in Seattle the day after it was reported in Nature that a second patient appears to have been cured of infection with the virus, excitement and questions hung in the air.

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Mark Dybul, Co-Chair of the Towards an HIV Cure initiative, said in spite of the great success of ART, there remains a high need for a cure for HIV, especially in low-income settings.

He added that both the Berlin and London patients had this complication, which could have played a role in the loss of HIV-infected cells.

These findings demonstrate that "the Berlin patient was not an anomaly", Gupta said.

"They used a reduced intense conditioning regimen but I think that had no influence on the outcome", he said.

But a second instance of remission and likely cure following such a transplant will help scientists narrow the range of treatment strategies, he and others said.

Dr. Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity and a professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne, said the long remission seen in the London patient is "exciting".

Both cases bear similarities to that of the first person to be functionally cured of HIV after a stem cell transplant back in 2007, a man called Timothy Ray Brown and also known as the "Berlin patient".

Graham Cooke, a professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College London, said in a statement to the Science Media Centre that the new study is "encouraging".

The AIDS virus uses CCR5 to enter cells, but if the gene is mutated, HIV can not latch onto cells and infect them. "What we'd really love is to have a strategy where we can cure people with HIV without putting them in a life threatening situation".