However, medical experts warned the news does not mean all HIV patients can be cured from their disease. Scientists have wondered, however, whether this good fortune could be shared around by injecting stem cells from people with two Δ32 copies into HIV patients. Effectively, some scientists believe that the "London patient" has been cured of the viral infection, which affects close to 37 million people worldwide.
The study describes an anonymous male patient in Britain who was diagnosed with HIV infection in 2003 and has been on antiretroviral therapy since 2012.
To learn more about the factors that favor a cure, amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, a New York City-based foundation, in 2014 began to fund a consortium of global researchers who do transplants in HIV-infected people with blood cancers.
Gupta prefers to say the man is instead in long-term remission, in part because the team hasn't looked at tissues other than the patient's blood. He has been tested regularly in the 18 months since, and so far not only is there no sign of the virus returning, but his white blood cells are not expressing CCR5.
The London patient, whose case was set to be reported in the journal Nature and presented at a medical conference in Seattle on Tuesday, has asked his medical team not to reveal his name, age, nationality or other details.
The decades-long HIV epidemic still persists in the United States and worldwide, with almost 39,000 new diagnoses in the country in 2017. He notes that the Berlin patient and the London patient had similar side effects after the treatment. Four years later, doctors gave him a bone marrow transplant, and luckily for him, his donor for the marrow had natural immunity to HIV.
"Two factors are likely at play - the new bone marrow is resistant to HIV and also the new bone marrow is actively eliminating any HIV-infected cells through something called graft versus host disease".
"Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global priority, but is particularly hard because the virus integrates into the white blood cells of its host", said the study's lead author, Professor Ravindra Gupta from the University of Cambridge, who led the study while at UCL. "I think that finding a scalable cure that is safe and can be applied to a vast majority of individuals living with HIV is definitely attainable, but we have a lot more work to go".
The London patient, who had Hodgkin's lymphoma, is the first adult to be cleared of HIV since Brown. The gene is known to create a protein that is crucial for HIV to invade blood cells.
"HIV Is Cured In 2nd Patient, Doctors Report".
The only previous patient to be cured of the virus was Timothy Ray Brown, an American known as the "Berlin patient".