H.I.V. Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic
Scientists have long tried to duplicate the procedure that led to the first long-term remission 12 years ago. With the so-called London patient, they seem to have succeeded.
For just the second time since the global epidemic began, a patient appears to have been cured of infection with H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS.
The news comes nearly 12 years to the day after the first patient known to be cured, a feat that researchers have long tried, and failed, to duplicate. The surprise success now confirms that a cure for H.I.V. infection is possible, if difficult, researchers said.
The investigators are to publish their report on Tuesday in the journal Nature and to present some of the details at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle.
Publicly, the scientists are describing the case as a long-term remission. In interviews, most experts are calling it a cure, with the caveat that it is hard to know how to define the word when there are only two known instances.
Both milestones resulted from bone-marrow transplants given to infected patients. But the transplants were intended to treat cancer in the patients, not H.I.V.
Bone-marrow transplantation is unlikely to be a realistic treatment option in the near future. Powerful drugs are now available to control H.I.V. infection, while the transplants are risky, with harsh side effects that can last for years.
But rearming the body with immune cells similarly modified to resist H.I.V. might well succeed as a practical treatment, experts said.
“This will inspire people that cure is not a dream,” said Dr. Annemarie Wensing, a virologist at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands. “It’s reachable.”
Dr. Wensing is co-leader of IciStem, a consortium of European scientists studying stem cell transplants to treat H.I.V. infection. The consortium is supported by AMFAR, the American AIDS research organization.
By Apoorva Mandavilli , March 4, 2019 – NYTimes.com
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