Bone marrow transplant brightens hope for HIV cure

A London patient has become the second known man to be cured of AIDS virus after receiving a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donor, according to his doctor.

The patient has shown no trace of previous HIV infection since he underwent the transplant procedure three years ago.

“There is no virus there that we can measure. We can’t detect anything”, said Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating the man.

However, Gupta described his patient as “functionally cured” and “in remission”, rather than “cured”. It is too early to say to he is cured”, he said.

The first known patient to be functionally cured of HIV is an American, Timothy Brown, who also underwent similar treatment in Germany in 2007.

Both patients received bone marrow stem cells from donors with a rare genetic mutation known as “CCR5 delta 32”, which confers resistance to HIV. Between Brown and the new and the new London patient, scientists made several attempts to cure other AIDS patients using the same method, but failed in all of them.

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Gupta said the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies.

The authors of the study also said the technique may not necessarily be effective for all HIV-infected individuals, specifically those carrying the gene CXCR4.

Sarah Palmer, the Deputy Director of the Centre for Virus Research at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Sydney, said the study “further confirms the promising HIV curative effects of bone marrow transplantation from the relatively few persons, who have HIV resistant cells.

“However, this curative process is not yet applicable to tens of millions of other HIV-infected individuals worldwide. The next steps should be focused on how to do so”, she added.

The WHO report in 2017 estimated about 36.9 million people to be living with HIV/AIDS though AIDS related deaths have been reduced by more than 51 percent since the peak in 2004.

According to HEALTHLINE, a bone marrow transplant is a medical procedure performed to replace bone marrow that has been damaged by disease, infection, or chemotherapy. It involves transplanting blood stem cells, which travel to the bone marrow where they produce new blood cells and promote growth of new marrow. Bone marrow transplant is being recently used in the cure for sickle cell anemia, treatment of leukemia, genotype change from SS/AS to AA, and in attempted HIV cure.

Culled from the Nation Newspaper


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