A patient who was suffering from HIV and leukemia has been treated with no signs of its return.
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Researchers have announced that a 53-year-old man, who is referred to as the Düsseldorf patient to protect his privacy, has been cured of HIV in Germany.
The research was published in Nature Medicine on Monday. According to the researchers, he is the fifth confirmed case of cured HIV in the world.
At a conference in 2019, the details were first announced of his successful treatment. However, at the time, the researchers could not confirm that he had been cured officially. The researchers have now announced that even after discontinuing his HIV medications for four years, the Düsseldorf patient’s body has no detectable virus.
The name of the patient was not revealed. The study found that the 53-year-old was diagnosed with HIV in 2008. After three years, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a form of blood cancer that can be life-threatening.
In the year 2013, the Düsseldorf patient underwent a bone marrow transplant. The stem cells of the donor were used. The donor was a female who had a rare mutation in the gene CCR5. According to AFP, this rare gene mutation has been found to stop HIV from entering the cells.
The bone marrow transplant used in this case is considered to be a dangerous and severe operation. Therefore, it is only considered suitable for some special cases or a small number of patients suffering from blood cancer and HIV.
Locating a bone marrow donor with the rare gene mutation necessary is an additional challenge in this treatment. This is why it is not suggested to every HIV patient.
On Valentine’s Day, the patient celebrated the tenth anniversary of the transplant. The guest of honor there was the donor. The patient stated that he was very proud of the worldwide team of doctors that seceded in curing him of HIV and leukemia at the same time.
Research So Far
Dr. Bjorn Erik Ole Jensen, who presented the case details in the publication, said, that this research is a positive symbol that gives hope, although there is a lot more work to do. He believes that the insights from this patient and similar cases of HIV cure can provide hints into developing a safer strategy for future cases.
Timothy Ray Brown was the first person cured of HIV. He was referred to as the Berlin Patient by researchers. His research was published in the year 2009.
The second person whose HIV was cured was referred to as the London patient. His study was published in the year 2019.
The most recent announcement was in the year 2022 regarding New York patients and the City of Hope. Their respective research is yet to be published.
All four patients mentioned above had undergone stem cell transplants to treat their blood cancer. The donors of these patients also had the same rare mutation that causes the deletion of the CCR5 protein. Due to this, HIV is not able to enter the cell.
This genetic mutation that makes them resistant to HIV is found in approximately 1 percent of the total world population. This is why it is referred to as a rare mutation.
According to the United Nations, in the year 2021, 38.4 million people have HIV all over the world.
HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the immune system of the host’s body and can lead to AIDS if not treated.
Modern medication has helped extend the life of patients. Work on vaccines that can prevent HIV infection is also going on.
For years it has been believed that there is no cure for HIV. However, some scientists have been using stem cell transplants as treatment by inserting a mutated gene that is resistant to the virus or is anti-HIV.
Asier Saez-Cirion, France Pasteur Institute, one of the study’s co-authors, has said that the patient’s immune cells are replaced by those of the, which makes it possible for the majority of the infected cells to disappear.