European man potentially 6th person ‘cured’ of HIV

European man potentially 6th person 'cured' of HIV

Rare Case of Remission Raises Hope for HIV Cure

HIV Remission

In an exciting development, a European man could potentially become the sixth person to achieve remission from HIV, a disease for which a cure is generally considered rare. This breakthrough case has caught the attention of the scientific and medical communities and is raising hope for finding a cure for this devastating virus.

The Swiss man in his 50s, known as the “Geneva patient,” was first diagnosed with HIV in 1990. Since 2005, he has been on antiretroviral therapy to manage the virus. However, two years ago, he received a stem cell transplant to treat a rare blood cancer. What makes his case unique is that unlike the previous five patients who received stem cell transplants from donors with a genetic abnormality resistant to HIV, this patient did not have such a donor.

Dr. Sharon Lewin, president of the International AIDS Society (IAS), refers to this case as “great news” and believes it may contribute to the ongoing efforts to find a cure for HIV. Scientists will gather to discuss this groundbreaking case at the IAS Conference on HIV Science in Brisbane, Australia.

The patient underwent radiation, chemotherapy, and the stem cell transplant to address extramedullary myeloid tumor, the blood cancer he was diagnosed with in 2018. The case has been closely monitored by a research team led by Asier Sáez-Cirión at the Institute Pasteur in Paris.

Though the patient has been off antiretroviral therapy since November 2021, it is essential to note that remission does not guarantee the absence of viral rebound. Highly sensitive tests have been conducted to detect any possible traces of HIV in the patient’s body. So far, only minimal amounts of defective virus have been found.

Dr. Steven Deeks, a leading HIV researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, considers this case a potential game-changer. He highlights the importance of the chemotherapy’s role in eliminating the reservoir where HIV typically resides. The patient also experienced episodes of graft-versus-host disease, a dangerous immune reaction that occurs after a stem cell transplant. However, in this case, the newly rebuilt immune system may have helped clear out any residual HIV.

Continuing immunosuppressive therapy to prevent graft-versus-host disease may be keeping any remaining HIV in check, according to Sáez-Cirión. Other patients who underwent stem cell transplants from donors without the genetic mutation experienced an HIV resurgence after discontinuing antiretroviral treatment, suggesting the significance of this particular genetic abnormality.

While this development offers promising insights into a potential HIV cure, it is crucial to recognize that the road to a complete cure may still take decades. The toxicity of stem cell transplants limits their application to cancer treatment, making them unethical for individuals without cancer.

Additionally, HIV can hide in non-replicating immune cells, even when the disease is suppressed by antiretroviral therapy. Current treatments are ineffective against dormant immune cells, which poses a challenge in completely eradicating the virus.

At the IAS conference, scientists will delve into various aspects of HIV research, including post-treatment control of HIV in infants, the impact of circumcision on HIV risk among gay men, and the association between HIV and mpox, a condition of intense skin itchiness.

This rare case of remission serves as a beacon of hope, pushing researchers and experts in the field to explore new possibilities. As the scientific community aims to overcome the challenges posed by HIV, advancements like this pave the way for a future where HIV may no longer be a life-threatening condition.

More information

For more information on HIV, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Sources:NBC NewsMedicineNet