A man in the United Kingdom may be the second person ever to be cured of HIV.
The new patient, who was diagnosed with the virus in 2003, appears to be HIV-free after a special bone-marrow transplant, according to a new report of his case.
The researchers caution that it’s too soon to say for sure if the man has been definitively cured of HIV. But the patient has experienced long-term remission from the virus without the need for medications for 18 months.
The case marks only the second time ever that doctors have used this particular treatment to seemingly eliminate the virus from a person’s body. The first patient — known as the Berlin patient — received a similar bone-marrow transplant in 2007 and has been HIV-free for more than a decade.
“By achieving [HIV] remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly, and that it really was the treatment…that eliminated HIV in these two people,” lead study author Dr. Ravindra Gupta, a professor in the Division of Infection and Immunity at University College London, said in a statement.
However, the researchers stress that such a bone-marrow transplant would not work as a standard therapy for all patients with HIV. Such transplants are risky, and both the Berlin patient and the man in the new case, called the London patient, needed the transplants to treat cancer, rather than HIV.
But future therapies could aim to mimic the treatment without the need for a bone-marrow transplant.
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