Cynthia Chukwuma (Abuja)
A patient has been cured of AIDS virus in London. He is said to be the second man to have been cured of the virus, according to his doctor. The virus was cleared after he received a bone marrow transplant from an HIV resistant donour.
The transplant was done three years ago and since then the patient has not shown any trace of HIV infection. According to Ravindra Gupta, a professor and a HIV biologist in conjunction with a team of doctors treating the patient, he said there is no virus and they cannot detect anything.
He however described the patient has being ‘functionally cured’ and in remission, rather than been ‘cured’, as he said it was too early to be called cured.
Timothy Brown, an American man, was the first patient to be functionally cured of the disease. He was said to have undergone similar treatment in Germany in 2007. Both patients received bone marrow stem cells from donors with rare genetic mutations known as ‘CCR5′ Delta 32, which shows resistance to the virus.
CCR5 is the gene purportedly by edited by Chinese scientist, He Jainkui, which led to the birth of babies in 2018, who are said to be HIV resistant.
Several attempts are being made by scientists to cure other AIDS patients using the same method of treatment used for both patients, but these attempts have failed. However, Gupta said the method was not appropriate for all patients but a hope for new treatment strategies.
The last available data on the HIV/AIDS was published by the WHO in 2017. The report shows that since the beginning of the epidemic, over 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million people have died of HIV.
Globally, approximately 37 million people live with HIV/AIDS. Africa remains most severely affected, with 25.7 million people are living with the disease. This means 1 in every 25 adults (4.1%) living with HIV and accounting for nearly two-thirds of the people living with HIV globally.
According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, AIDS-related deaths have been reduced by more than 51 per cent since the peak in 2004.
The authors of the study which was published, yesterday, have also said the technique may not necessarily be effective for all HIV-infected individuals, specifically those carrying the gene CXCR4.
Deputy Director of the Centre for Virus Research at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Sydney, Sarah Palmer, said the study “further confirms the promising HIV curative effects of bone marrow transplantation from the relatively few persons, who have the HIV resistant cells.
“However, this curative process is not yet applicable to tens of millions of other HIV-infected individuals worldwide. The next steps should be focused on how to do so,” she added.