A patient may be the third person in the world to be ‘cured’ of HIV, according to scientists.
The Dussldorf patient’s diagnosis was announced just days after the second person was also ‘functionally cured’ of HIV.
Like the second, the third patient also received a bone marrow transplant.
There was no evidence of infectious HIV in the gut and lymph nodes of the patient three months after he stopped taking antiretroviral medication.
Third person ‘functionally cured’ of HIV
Anne-Marie Wensing, of University Medical Center Utrecht, said the patient received the transplant to treat his leukaemia.
The donor has a rare genetic mutation called CCR5 delta 32, which confers resistance to HIV.
Timothy Ray Brown, known also as the Berlin patient, was the first person to be cleared of the HIV virus.
The long remission came after a bone marrow transplant from a CCR5 delta 32 donor in 2016 for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a kind of blood cancer.
Ravindra Gupta, a HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating the Dusseldorf patient, said the man was ‘functionally cured’.
He also cautioned: ‘It’s too early to say he’s cured.’
Bone marrow transplants ‘not realistic’
HIV advocates say bone marrow transplants is not a realistic procedure for people who live with HIV.
It is a risky procedure, normally only given as a last-ditch effort to fight cancers.
Donors with the CC45 delta 32 mutation are also incredibly rare.
But there is still hope. It is still a major step towards finding a cure to the virus which affects 37 million people worldwide.
Some scientists believe the same effects could be replicated using a new technology called CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing.
Others also say we are not far from a way for patients living with HIV to be injected a few times a year instead of taking daily medication.