Twelve years ago, the first “AIDS cure” appeared. After 12 years, it seems that there is a second case.
The first case was “Berlin patient” Timothy Ray Brown, who was suffering from leukemia and received bone marrow transplant after chemotherapy failure. The person donated to his bone marrow happens to have a CCR5Δ32 mutation.
The Berlin patient was really alive at the time, but when he recovered from transplant surgery and serious complications, the doctors found that the bone marrow transplant not only cured his leukemia, but also successfully suppressed his body’s HIV. Later, he stopped taking anti-HIV drugs and remained healthy.
Many people want to replicate the success of Berlin patients, but the transplant case has repeatedly failed. People once thought that the Berlin patients were only lucky, or perhaps they had to be extremely ill in the transplant process like the Berlin patients, and they could die.
But the second “London patient” appeared.
University of London virologist Ravindra Gupta said at the conference that “London Patient”, 36 years old, had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and received a bone marrow transplant with the CCR5Δ32 mutation in May 2016. The entire treatment process was relatively stable and there was no unexpected situation.
London patients stopped taking anti-HIV drugs in September 2017. It has been more than a year since the virus was not detected in the blood.
Hiv antibodies are still present, but as time goes by, antibody levels continue to drop, similar to the situation in Berlin patients.
According to reports, there is also a case of “Düsseldorf patients” also has great hope.
So can this method be extended to all AIDS patients? It may not work, bone marrow transplantation is not a good choice for patients who are only infected with HIV.
The bone marrow transplantation of these two patients was firstly for the treatment of malignant tumors, and eliminating HIV infection is only a side benefit.
After all, bone marrow transplantation is also a treatment with high cost and risk. Now, there are many drugs that can control HIV virus for a long time. It is more realistic for people who are only infected with HIV to take medication control.
Maybe the treatment of HIV hopes to be in gene therapy.
Many teams are now working on how to accurately engineer genes, such as changing only the CCR5 gene in bone marrow cells without altering other cells. For bone marrow cells, only the CCR5 gene is precisely altered and no other genes are altered.
There is currently no way to achieve such precision.
In addition, attention should be paid to the X4 strain in the HIV virus, which does not enter the cell via the CCR5 protein, but via the CXCR4 protein. Therefore, modification of CCR5 does not prevent this HIV strain. The mutation of CCR5 does not protect against all HIV viruses.
In any case, London patients are good news. The first cure may be just a miracle. But the second cure is science.