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A New Hope for HIV Patients

May 13, 2020 by Osama Bahsas Zaky

In 2008, an important news was made public; that a patient named Timothy Ray Brown, known as the "Berlin Patient" was cured of HIV, this patient was diagnosed in 1995 with the virus and started antiretroviral therapy the same year, in 2006, he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), a blood disease that affects red blood cells, generating its deficiency, so he was scheduled to receive a bone marrow transplant from a patient with a CCR5 receptor mutation.

The mutation of this receptor is very important since HIV cannot enter human cells if this receptor is mutated, so this bone marrow transplant could mean therapy for this virus.

HIV test

The "Berlin Patient" received two bone marrow transplants, one in 2007 and the other in 2008, his antiretroviral treatment was omitted on the day of his first transplant, and three months after the first transplant the blood levels of the virus decreased dramatically, and in turn there were increased levels of CD4+ T cells (blood defense cells that decrease in HIV infection), which meant that this patient was healing, in 2011 these findings were published in the New England Journal because Brown remained without antiretroviral treatment but without evidencing findings of the virus so it is considered that he is cured of the virus thanks to the bone marrow transplants that were performed.

In March 2020, another case was published but in England, the case of Adam Castillejo, publicly known as the "London Patient", this patient was diagnosed in 2003 with HIV and started his antiretroviral treatment the same year, in 2019 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, a disease that affects white blood cells, making them grow rapidly and disorderly.

A bone marrow transplant was also planned for this patient, also from a donor with a mutation of the CCR5 gene. 18 months after the transplant, the patient did not have persistent lymphoma or HIV, therefore it was considered that he had entered remission. The study was later published, 30 months after treatment without showing the virus in plasma, semen, or cerebrospinal fluid, which is why it is considered that he was completely cured.

"Doctor Gupta, author of this article mentions that this can demonstrate that the result obtained with the Berlin patient was not a simple accident or a matter of chance, but hope for HIV patients".


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