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Patient free of HIV after stem cell transplant

A UK HIV-patient became the second person worldwide to be freed of the virus after a stem cell transplant. Until now, the London-based man has shown no traces of HIV in his blood after having stopped taking HIV medication 18 months ago. However, it’s too early to speak of him being “cured” of HIV, doctors say. The man was treated for his advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma with chemotherapy and an additional stem cell implant which was taken from a donor with a rare genetic mutation making him HIV-resistant. Through the therapy, both, his HIV and cancer went into remission.

This case is the second in which a patient’s HIV went into remission after a bone-marrow transplant. 10 years ago, a Berlin man has been freed from his HIV-infection after having stem cell transplantation.

The leading author of the study Prof Ravindra Gupta, from University College London, said about the case: “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”.

However, experts warn that this method cannot be applied as a general cure as it’s a very aggressive procedure. But it raises hope to find a cure for HIV patients in the future. Prof Eduardo Olavarria, who was also involved in the case, said that “the treatment is not appropriate as a standard HIV treatment because of the toxicity of chemotherapy, which in this case was required to treat the lymphoma.”

The treatment of the UK patient involved researchers from various institutions such as University College London, Imperial College London, Cambridge, and Oxford Universities.

Still, there is a chance of the virus re-emerging in the patient’s body. He will have to be monitored over a longer period of time to make sure the virus doesn’t come back.

About the author

Juliane Girl

Hey, It's Juliane. I'm from the north of Germany where I study culture, language, and media. At the moment I'm working as an editor with Babylon Radio.


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