It has been only a few days since the announcement of a second patient getting functionally cured of HIV came out that it has been revealed that a third patient might also be cured after receiving a bone-marrow transplant like the first two patients. The third patient has been termed the Dusseldorf patient and was found to contain no traces of HIV in the gut and lymph nodes three months after the Dusseldorf patient stopped the intake for antiretroviral medication.
Back in 2007, ‘Berlin patient’ was the very first person who was cured of HIV following cancer treatment. The patient was suffering from leukemia. He was given a treatment that killed almost all of his immune cells using radiotherapy or drugs. After that, they were replaced with donor cells. There was, however, a particular condition of the donor cells; the donor features an uncommon natural mutation in a gene called CCR5 thus making him resistant to HIV naturally.
Last Monday, it was revealed that a second patient called ‘London patient’ was given the same treatment and the same results were obtained. The Berlin patient was hopeful that this meant that a cure was possible. Timothy Ray Brown, ‘Berlin patient,’ said, ‘It proves that HIV can be cured and that’s what basically gives people hope in my case. It gives the scientists hope that they should keep looking for finding cures for HIV and also gives patients hope that there will be a cure that will help them one day.’
While announcing the functional curing of London patient, Professor Ravindra Gupta (UCL, UCLH, and University of Cambridge) – also the lead author of the study – 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.’ The identity of the London patient has been kept under the wraps. However, the patient is said to have been HIV free for 18 months, however, according to Gupta; the patient was only functionally cured, and it is too early to claim that the patient has been fully cured.
With the news about the Dusseldorf patient, new hope has emerged that a cure for HIV has been found. However, doctors and expert are still cautious. Bone marrow transplants are quite risky medical procedures. As of now, experts are also trying to consider the possibility of replicating the results by making use of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing.