UF Health physician discusses possible game-changing breakthrough in HIV treatment

There have been reports about a patient
that appears to have been cured of HIV. I can describe what’s gone on with this
London patient based on what has been reported in the media. According to the
news reports, this patient had been diagnosed with HIV and it sounds like he
wasn’t initially on treatment, but developed Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is
something that happens to some people with HIV and as part of his treatment he
needed a bone-marrow transplant. And they did a version of the bone marrow
transplant very similar to what they did with a patient called the Berlin patient,
who got a bone marrow transplant with a modified form of a receptor on his cd4
cells which are the target cells for HIV. It’s called the ccr5 mutation and that
mutation allows the patient to be protected from HIV, they don’t naturally
get that re-infection after the transplant because their immune system
cells have been replaced with this mutated cell. So normally an HIV
infection many people will have infection because of the ccr5 receptor
on their cd4 cells. If they can mutate that receptor, the HIV isn’t able to bind
and infect the patient. There are some types of HIV infection that don’t use
that receptor so this isn’t a cure for everyone with HIV and I would say it’s
not a cure for very many people with HIV. They tried this in other patients and it
hasn’t been successful. It’s been successful with one other patient who
has been HIV free for many years now and not taking any HIV medications, but for
most patients this would not be an option because the drugs we have are so
well tolerated, patients really do put themselves at risk when they have to get
a bone marrow transplant because it does require them to get extensive
chemotherapy and sometimes radiation therapy.
But, I’m very optimistic because we haven’t ever been able to cure people
before and if this is really a cure of two patients, maybe we’ll learn something
that will give us more information that we can use in the future.

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