For the second time in more than a decade, the HIV virus may have been eradicated from a patient’s body, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature.
The anonymous patient, known as the “London Patient,” contracted the HIV virus in 2003 and began antiretroviral therapy in 2012. Later, he was diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma and began chemotherapy. In 2016, he underwent a bone-marrow transplant from a donor who carried CCR5-delta 32, a genetic mutation that is resistant to HIV.
The patient continued antiretroviral therapy for 16 months post-transplant before halting therapy. He has been in remission for 18 months and his HIV viral load has remained undetectable.
Timothy Brown, who at the time was known as the “Berlin Patient,” also became “cured” of HIV after receiving cancer treatment. Brown, who was living with HIV, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. After receiving two bone marrow transplants in 2007 and 2008 and whole-body irradiation, HIV was also undetectable in Brown’s body. Brown’s bone-marrow transplant also came from a donor who also carried the genetic mutation CCR5-delta 32.
Brown is still HIV free today.
“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,” Ravindra Gupta, lead author of the study and a professor in University College London’s Division of Infection and Immunity, told CNN.
According to Gupta, bone-marrow transplants aren’t a method that will work for everyone as they are a high-risk procedure but it does open new avenues that could work such as gene therapies.