A cure for HIV might just have been found after a patient in London was accidentally cured from the deadly infection. This comes 12 years after a patient was cured in Berlin.
The London patient is among 38 HIV-infected people who are being tracked after receiving bone-marrow transplants. So far, 6 of the cases have successfully received bone-marrow transplants without mutation.
In both cases, the HIV cure had not been expected as the patients received bone-marrow transplants to treat cancer. The two patients were also given immunosuppressive drugs (drugs that reduce the body’s immunity and can make the body less likely to reject a transplanted organ) with the Berlin (first) patient receiving a higher dosage. The Berlin patient developed complications after the transplant and at one point; he was put in an induced coma which nearly killed him.
Since the first cure, researchers’ attempts to replicate the treatment on other HIV patients were unsuccessful. Therefore, scientists have said that the cure of the second patient from London is proof that HIV can be cured.
“This will inspire people that cure is not a dream. It’s reachable,” Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht in Netherlands said.
However, medical experts have dismissed bone-marrow transplants as a realistic form of treatment in future as there are risks and harsh side effects that could extend for years. Medical experts have therefore suggested replacing of HIV infected cells with immune cells which have been modified to resist HIV as the most practical treatment.
The London patient stopped taking anti-retroviral drugs in September 2017 and more than a year later, he has remained virus-free. Though tests have shown he’s virus-free, there is no complete guarantee that the he is out of danger from the virus. However, his recovery is similar to the Berlin patient which is a good sign.