An HIV positive patient in Britain has become the second patient to be cured of cancer. This news came nearly 12 after the first patient who was referred as Berlin patient, later identified as Timothy Ray Brown was cured of HIV virus.
The new patient remains anonymous and the scientists referred to him only as the London patient. According to the researchers, the patient contracted HIV in 2003 and in 2012 he was also diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
According to Dr. Ravindra Gupta, a professor and HIV biologist who co-led a team of doctors treating the man, “There is no virus there that we can measure. We can’t detect anything,”
Almost three years after receiving bone marrow stem cells from a donor with the CCR5 mutation, a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection .The transplant went relatively smooth but there were some side effects. He had quit taking anti-H.I.V. drugs in September 2017, he is the second patient to be virus free for more than a year.
Dr. Gupta said his team plans to use these findings to explore potential new HIV treatment strategies. “We need to understand if we could knock out this (CCR5) receptor in people with HIV, which may be possible with gene therapy,” he said.
The London patient has asked his medical team not to reveal his name, age, nationality or other details.
How India can be a haven for HIV treatment
Despite the positive news about HIV cure through Bone Marrow Transplant, the grim news is that Bone Marrow or Stem Cell Transplant is quite an expensive procedure and an Allogenic Bone Marrow Transplant could cost as high as USD 200,000 in USA or Europe. However, the same procedure is done for about USD 30,000 in some of the best Bone Marrow Transplant centers in India.
This offers a ray of hope for patients from South Asia, Africa, GCC and CIS countries who may not be able to spend a hefty amount on transplants.
It should however be noted that finding a CCR5 mutation will also not be an easy task. In developing countries, the no. of voluntary donors for stem cell are very low already.
Despite the shortcomings, we pray and hope that a cure for HIV, AIDS is found at the earliest so that millions can benefit from the same.