HIV Cure- London Patient Becomes Second to Get Cured

Science and Technology has progressed for the well being of mankind. Due to scientific development, Mankind has been able to fight against various life threatening diseases and has also won the war against fatal illness. However, there is one such disease which even science could not cure-HIV AIDS. However, the same is not the situation anymore. The breaking news in the field of medical research is that finally, HIV cure is here, finally. Here’s a glimpse of the story of a man who has successfully escaped the dreadful disease.

The Story of the Berlin Patient:

The name of the person who has been the only man on earth to beat HIV successfully is Timothy Ray Brown. Mr. Brown was an activist that advocated safe sex. He taught people the importance of using safety measures while having sex until he found himself caught within the shackles of HIV in the year 1995. This man then decided to leave the US and shift to Germany. In the year 2006, Mr.Brown was also diagnosed with acute myeloid lekemia, also known as cancer of the blood cells in common language. When death has all its plan in place to take Timothy Brown away, he instead chose to persist. He visited his doctor Gero Heutter at Charité Hospital in Berlin. They performed a stem cell transplant surgery in order to cure Mr. Brown from leukemia. To their utter surprise, Mr. Brown also recovered from HIV.

How did it Happen?

There is no functional treatment to cure HIV. Mr. Brown had been particularly lucky. He had to get a bone marrow transplant to cure his Leukemia. He had been lucky enough to obtain a bone marrow from a donor who was resistant to HIV virus. The donor had a specific genetic mutation that had a strong immune system. As a result, the immune system of Mr.Brown also became strong.

Brown had been consuming antiretroviral therapy (ART) to combat the symptoms of HIV for about 11 years. This was in order to control the infection. He thereafter learnt that he had leukemia which he tried to cure using chemotherapy techniques but in vain. His doctor then decided to proceed with bone marrow transplant. With the transplant, his cancer was successfully dropped. Only to his surprise, he learnt that he could also ditch his ART treatment and medications because his HIV did not bounce back. It took everyone to surprise and people attempted to find out about how this could have been a possibility.

As per research, the scientists came to conclusion that three factors could have been contributing to this phenomenon.  Firstly, the transplant that Brown obtained a bone marrow transplant from a person with a rare genetic mutation. This altered the receptors that are used by the HIV virus to penetrate through our blood cells.

Secondly, the immune system of Mr. Brown was destroyed to prepare him for transplant through the initial process of chemotherapy and radiation. This is a process that is termed as conditioning. Thirdly, the transplanted cells may have attacked the cells in the body of Brown. This is a common process called graft versus host disease. Due to this attack on the already existing cells in the body of Brown, the remaining HIV affected cells were destroyed by the transplanted cells. These are three possible theories to support what could have worked for Brown. To find out what actually favored Mr. Brown, scientists devised research that was carried on Monkeys.

The story of The London Patient:

The story repeated with the second patient who was treated of HIV in a similar manner in the year 2016. He too received bone marrow stem cell donation from a donor who had a rare genetic mutation that resists HIV infection. The London patient is actually of Indian origin named Mr. Gupta. Gupta contracted HIV in 2003 and in 2012 he was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

In 2016, he became extremely sick with cancer and was recommended he undergo a transplant. An unrelated donor volunteered to donate his bone marrow. the donor had genetic mutation known as CCR5 delta 32. This mutation confers resistance to HIV. The same mutation showed its wonders in case of Mr. Brown as well. The theory of graft versus host disease held true in this scenario where the infected cells of Gupta were attacked and killed by the newly transplanted cells. The treatment had its own set of side effects. However the results were fruitful that there were no traces of the HIV cells found in the body of the London patient.

These mutation cells were found in people belonging to north Europe. Scientists believe that if these mutated cells could be effective for two people, it could give a new hope to the patients that their incurable disease could be cured and they can be given gift of life. Around 37 million people all  over the world are suffering from AIDS. This is a ray of hope for all of the sufferers. However, deep studying and research needs to done to achieve considerable progress in this field. One day, hopefully, we could devise medications and treatment using this theory to provide a curative relief to those who wish to hope for life in the middle of the journey bringing them closer to death.

Shabnam Vandeliwala

Venturing into writing is my second most admired hobby after litigating in courts. An advocate by profession, writing gives me immense sense of satisfaction especially in the time that I'm free from other work.

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