Second Case of HIV Cure Using Stem Cell Transplant Reported

By Wu Qiaoxi / Compiled from International News

In a publication in the journal "Nature," British scientists reported the second global case of a "cure" for HIV infection. A male patient underwent a stem cell transplant for cancer, and due to the rare genetic mutation in the donor that conferred resistance to the HIV virus, he showed no detectable traces of the virus 18 months after discontinuing antiretroviral drugs.

The patient, referred to as the "London Patient," was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and started treatment in 2012. He later developed Hodgkin's lymphoma, underwent chemotherapy, and had a stem cell transplant in May 2016. Following the surgery, he continued antiretroviral therapy for 16 months but stopped in September 2017. Eighteen months later, no traces of the HIV virus were found in his body.

This marks the second case in 12 years of an HIV-infected individual being cured through stem cell transplantation. The first case was the "Berlin Patient," Timothy Ray Brown, an American man who underwent the procedure in 2007. Before the transplant, Brown underwent intense radiation and chemotherapy to "reset" his immune system, enduring significant suffering and coming close to death.

"Never Thought I Could Recover"

The "London Patient," expressing excitement in an interview with The New York Times, said, "I never thought I could recover in my lifetime." He feels a "responsibility to help doctors understand how this happened." Timothy Ray Brown, now residing in the United States, expressed hope to meet the "London Patient" and encouraged him to disclose his identity, providing greater encouragement to other patients.

Over the years, the medical community attempted to replicate such success, often resulting in either the resurgence of the HIV virus or patients succumbing to cancer. Professor Gupta, the study's author and a professor at University College London, stated, "After the Berlin Patient, everyone thought that you basically need to be at death's door to cure HIV." However, he emphasized that they have now demonstrated that the Berlin patient wasn't an exception, and this treatment indeed led to the disappearance of the HIV virus in both individuals. Gupta cautiously stated that the London Patient is currently in "long-term remission," and it's premature to declare complete cure; further observation is required.