This is the second case in history that a person has been cured of HIV. “The traces of viral particles that can independently penetrate into immune cells and infect them, have not been found in blood, as well as cerebrospinal fluid, intestines or patient’s lymph for 30 months. With full confidence we can say now that the patient has been cured of HIV,” the scientists write.
Previously, only one person was considered completely cured of HIV, the so-called “Berlin patient”, an American Timothy Brown. He gained immunity to the virus after the bone marrow transplantation in 2007.
His immunity to the virus is explained by the fact that he received bone marrow from a donor with mutations in the CXCR4 and CCR5 genes, they deprive HIV of ability to attack human immune cells or significantly slow its spread. Carriers of these gene variations do not always get rid of the virus but they almost always prevent the immunodeficiency development.
In May 2016, British doctors under a professor at University College London (UK) Ravindra Gupta performed a similar operation with another patient, Venezuelan Adam Castillejo. Until a certain moment, doctors did not disclose the patient’s name, but then he decided to disclose anonymity in interview with a New York Times correspondent.
Immunity to Immunodeficiency
Unlike the “Berlin patient,” Castillejo has been performed a simpler and safer bone marrow stem cell transplant, during which the patient’s body was only once “cleaned” from traces of cancer and hematopoietic bodies with help of soft radiation therapy.
A year ago, Gupta and his colleagues stated that this procedure not only saved their patient’s life but also protected him from HIV, similar to what happened to Timothy Brown. The experiment, however, did not end there, doctors continued to monitor the "London patient’s" health fearing that the virus would again begin to multiply in his body.
The monitoring showed that there was still no trace of the virus in blood and various organs of their patient despite the fact that the number of immune cells in his body were restoring quite slowly so far being only a quarter of the norm.
Their small number, however, have not made Castillejo vulnerable to infections that commonly involve HIV carriers and other immunocompromised people. Besides, the scientists have not recorded any other anomalies and evidence that the virus can actively multiply in his body. In general, his body was rehabilitating the same way as the “Berlin patient”, which indicated a similar mechanism for getting rid of the virus.
The scientists hope that subsequent monitoring of the “London patient’s” health as well as other successful examples of such surgeries, will help biologists and physicians create a safe mass alternative for such therapy, including using genomic editors that change the structure of the CXCR4 and CCR5 genes.
Photos are from open sources.