Tuesday, 5 March 2019


Berlin patient

An HIV positive man in the UK is the second person ever to be declared in remission from the virus, a new study reveals.

The unidentified 'London patient' has been free of the virus for 18 months without viral-suppressing treatment after a stem cell transplant to treat his cancer.

The only other person to have survived the life-threatening technique, and come out of it HIV-free, was so-called 'Berlin patient' Timothy Ray Brown, a US man treated in Germany 12 years ago. 

Every other attempt in the intervening years has been unsuccessful, many with devastating, deadly consequences. 

Experts hailed the news as a 'milestone' in the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but warned that it does not change the reality much for the 37 million people living with HIV.

Aside from HIV, both men were in the advanced stages of cancer - the Berlin patient with leukemia, the London patient with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

For them, a life-threatening and complex stem cell transplant was a last-ditch attempt at survival. For most others, that is an unnecessarily dangerous and improbable option compared to taking a daily pill that suppresses their virus so that it is untransmittable, and allowing them to live a long and healthy life.

Dr Anthony Fauci, head of the HIV/AIDS division at the National Institutes of Health, told DailyMail.com the report was 'elegant, important work' that 'fortifies the proof of concept' shown in the Berlin patient: that donor cells from someone who is HIV-resistant can wipe out a recipient's HIV if they survive the transplant.

'But it's completely non-practical from the standpoint for the broad array of people who want to get cured,' Dr Fauci added.

'If I have Hodgkin's disease or myeloid leukemia that's going to kill me anyway, and I need to have a stem cell transplant, and I also happen to have HIV, then this is very interesting.

'But this is not applicable to the millions of people who don't need a stem cell transplant.'

Dr Janet Siliciano of Johns Hopkins, one of the leading researchers in how HIV hides in the body, agreed that the findings have limited impact in a real-world sense.

But it shows that the first time wasn't a fluke - as so many feared when attempts to replicate the Berlin patient's treatment failed time and time again. 

The case, published online on Monday by the journal Nature, involved researchers at four UK universities: UCL, Imperial, Oxford and Cambridge. It will be presented on Tuesday at an HIV conference in Seattle. Daily Mail


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