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A third patient is now reportedly cured of HIV as major breakthrough becomes apparent

Doctors have long been searching for a cure for HIV positive people but while they have only been able to tame the virus into suppression, there have been no known cures until now. However, a few days ago the good news of a third HIV positive patient being free of the virus following a bone marrow transplant has set medical circles abuzz with excitement.

Doctors stated that the patient from Dusseldorf has shown no signs of HIV after three months of the procedure without antiviral drugs. The news follows the previous reports of a patient from London showing a similar recovery pattern after a bone marrow transplant.

It was reported by researchers in the journal Nature that the anonymous patient from London has been off virus-suppressing drugs for 18 months and that there are no traces of HIV in his bloodstream.
At the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Seattle, where news of the third patient was revealed, doctors stated that the patient is still under observation since his medication was stopped only three months ago. However, biopsies that have been taken of tissue from the gut and lymph nodes show him in the clear as there is no infection.

Since the first positive results of a bone marrow transplant performed on the first patient known as the ‘Berlin patient,’ doctors have been hopeful. Bone marrow transplants have been identified as a possible cure for HIV as they result in the replacement of infected cells and help in rebooting the immune system.

In the case of the ‘Berlin patient,’ the bone marrow transplant was able to replace cancerous cells as he was suffering from Leukaemia. This type of cancer targets the white blood cells of the body which are responsible for the immunity of a person.

The catch of this treatment is that the donor carried a mutation in a gene called CCR5 which is extremely rare, found in only 1 percent of people in Western Europe. This mutation guarantees resistance to HIV so when the gene is transferred to the patient during a transplant, it effectively cleans up the system and prevents the virus from returning.

Though the recent cures have been hailed by science the treatment will not be a viable one given the small number of people with the CCR5 gene compared to the millions infected with HIV. Further to this, a transplant of any kind is risky as there is a danger of rejection by the body hence the procedure has only been carried out on patients with life-threatening blood cancers.

Doctors, however, are monitoring the progress of other people suffering from HIV who have undergone a CCR5 bone marrow transplant. Two patients who have undergone the procedure have not stopped the anti-retroviral medicines as their immune systems need to get stronger.
Although the recent statistics seem to be a drop in the ocean for the millions that are infected, science will definitely find a way to harness this gene to make it more viable as a  long term cure.
A third patient is now reportedly cured of HIV as major breakthrough becomes apparent A third patient is now reportedly cured of HIV as major breakthrough becomes apparent Reviewed by Tim on March 15, 2019 Rating: 5

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