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A Fourth Person Is Effectively 'Cured' of HIV, And It's The Oldest Patient Yet
Science Alert ^ | 28 JULY 2022 | DANIEL LAWLER

Posted on 07/28/2022 10:46:50 AM PDT by Red Badger

HIV virions (red) budding and being released from an immune cell (blue). (NIH Image Gallery)

AIDS researchers announced on Wednesday that a fourth person has been "cured" of HIV, but the dangerous procedure for patients also battling cancer may be little comfort for the tens of millions living with the virus worldwide.

The 66-year-old man, named the "City of Hope" patient after the Californian center where he was treated, was declared in remission in the lead-up to the International AIDS Conference, which begins in Montreal, Canada on Friday.

He is the second person to be announced cured this year, after researchers said in February that a US woman dubbed the New York patient had also gone into remission.

The City of Hope patient, like the Berlin and London patients before him, achieved lasting remission from the virus after a bone marrow transplant to treat cancer.

Another man, the Duesseldorf patient, has also previously been said to have reached remission, potentially bringing the number cured to five.

Jana Dickter, an infectious disease specialist at the City of Hope, told AFP that because the latest patient was the oldest yet to achieve remission, his success could be promising for older HIV sufferers who also have cancer.

Dickter is the lead author of research on the patient which was announced at a pre-conference in Montreal but has not been peer-reviewed.

'I am beyond grateful' "When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, like many others, I thought it was a death sentence," said the patient, who does not want to be identified.

"I never thought I would live to see the day that I no longer have HIV," he said in a City of Hope statement. "I am beyond grateful."

Dickter said the patient had told her of the stigma he experienced during the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s.

"He saw many of his friends and loved ones become very ill and ultimately succumb to the disease," she said.

He had "full-blown AIDS" for a time, she said, but was part of early trials of antiretroviral therapy, which now allows many of the 38 million with HIV globally to live with the virus.

He had HIV for 31 years, longer than any previous patient who went into remission.

After being diagnosed with leukemia, in 2019 he received a bone marrow transplant with stem cells from an unrelated donor with a rare mutation in which part of the CCR5 gene is missing, making people resistant to HIV.

He waited until getting vaccinated for COVID-19 in March 2021 to stop taking antiretrovirals and has been in remission from both HIV and cancer since.

Reduced-intensity chemotherapy worked for the patient, potentially allowing older HIV patients with cancer to get the treatment, Dickter said.

But it is a complex procedure with serious side effects and "isn't a suitable option for most people with HIV", she added.

Steven Deeks, an HIV expert at the University of California, San Francisco who was not involved in the research, said the "first thing you do in a bone marrow transplant is you destroy your own immune system temporarily".

"You would never do this if you didn't have cancer," he told AFP.

'Holy Grail' Also announced at the AIDS conference was research about a 59-year-old Spanish woman with HIV who has maintained an undetectable viral load for 15 years despite stopping antiretroviral therapy.

Sharon Lewin, president-elect of the International AIDS Society which convenes the conference, said that it was not quite the same as the City of Hope patient, because the virus remained at a very low level.

"A cure remains the Holy Grail of HIV research," Lewin said.

"We have seen a handful of individual cure cases before and the two presented today provide continued hope for people living with HIV and inspiration for the scientific community."

She also pointed to a "truly exciting development" towards identifying HIV in an individual cell, which is "a bit like finding a needle in a haystack".

Deeks, an author of the new research also presented at the conference, said it was an "unprecedented deep dive into the biology of the infected cell".

The researchers identified that a cell with HIV has several particular characteristics.

It can proliferate better than most, is hard to kill, and is both resilient and hard to detect, Deeks said.

"This is why HIV is a lifelong infection."

But he said that cases such as the City of Hope patient offered a potential roadmap towards a more broadly available cure, possibly using CRISPR gene-editing technology.

"I think that if you can get rid of HIV, and get rid of CCR5, the door by which HIV gets in, then you can cure someone," Deeks said.

"It's theoretically possible – we're not there yet – to give someone a shot in the arm that will deliver an enzyme that will go into the cells and knock out CCR5, and knock out the virus.

"But that's science fiction for now."

© Agence France-Presse

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Health/Medicine; History; Society
KEYWORDS: aids; aidsmedicine; ccr5; hiv; hivacceleratedaging; leukemia; medicine

1 posted on 07/28/2022 10:46:50 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: Red Badger

So, how did he acquire HIV? That is important to know so we can avoid his path to HIV. Prevention is 100 times better than any cure.

2 posted on 07/28/2022 10:53:35 AM PDT by entropy12 (Trump & MAGA are the only way to keep USA viable.)
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To: Red Badger

After 40 years or so, they are finally flattening that curve.

3 posted on 07/28/2022 10:54:05 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (We are already in a revolutionary period, and the Rule of Law means nothing. It's "whatever".)
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Sweet, now they can spend eleventy billion dollars and a half century curing monkey buttpox, and then maybe they can start on cancer, diabetes, or heart disease...or actually they can double down on syphilis and herpes.

4 posted on 07/28/2022 11:04:15 AM PDT by dsrtsage ( Complexity is just simple lacking imagination)
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To: Red Badger

The doctor said he is in remission. That’s not cured

5 posted on 07/28/2022 11:36:58 AM PDT by Nifster (I see puppy dogs in the clouds )
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To: Nifster

He also has cancer.....................

6 posted on 07/28/2022 11:37:41 AM PDT by Red Badger (Homeless veterans camp in the streets while illegal aliens are put up in hotels.....................)
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To: Red Badger

7 posted on 07/28/2022 11:45:22 AM PDT by Carpe Cerevisi
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To: Red Badger

How long until he “catches” monkeypox?

8 posted on 07/28/2022 12:25:12 PM PDT by MtnClimber (For photos of Colorado scenery and wildlife, click on my screen name for my FR home page.)
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To: Red Badger

He’ll catch it again in a few weeks.

9 posted on 07/28/2022 1:05:46 PM PDT by Mr. Blond
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To: Red Badger
When I was diagnosed with HIV in 1988

How many others did he "share" it with?

10 posted on 07/28/2022 1:08:04 PM PDT by fso301
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To: Red Badger

HIV can also infect astrocytes(a type of brain cell) and kidney cells (nephrons) keeping hiv outta’ white cells is good overall but there are other long term sequelae of HIV infection in tissue other than t cells. Dementia and end stage renal failure are possible outcomes. A lifelong illness. Avoid at all costs.

11 posted on 07/28/2022 4:27:15 PM PDT by Getready (Wisdom is more valuable than gold and diamonds, and harder to find.)
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