“London patient” is second to experience sustained HIV remission following stem cell transplant

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A UK man who received a stem cell transplant from a donor with the rare CCR5-delta 32 mutation is believed to effectively be cured from HIV.

The CCR5-delta 32 genetic mutation hampers HIV’s ability to enter host cells, making individuals who carry both copies of the mutated gene immune to HIV infection. Those who carry one copy are not immune, however their chance of infection is reduced, and if they are infected, disease progression is delayed.

The “London patient” has been in remission for 18 months since stopping treatment with antiretroviral drugs. This is the second time the same procedure has resulted in HIV remission: the “Berlin patient” underwent a stem cell transplant 10 years ago, and is still in remission.

This new case demonstrates that the results seen 10 years ago can be replicated. However, stem cell transplants carry high risk and are quite costly, so they are not a viable strategy to achieve HIV remission. Therefore, these procedures are limited to patients that need a stem cell transplant to treat other indicated diseases, such as acute myeloid leukemia, in addition to their HIV infection.

The case study has been published in the peer-reviewed journal, Nature, which can be accessed here: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-019-1027-4.

Abby Hardy