Just days after the medical community was jolted with the news of the “London patient”, a third man, the “Düsseldorf patient” might have also been cured of the deadly and dreaded HIV.
University College London and the University of Cambridge Don, Professor Ravindra Gupta broke the amazing news of the “London patient ” at the International Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), Seattle, Washington, more than a decade after the “Berlin patient was cured of HIV.
The trio had stem cell transplantation with CCR5-delta 32 mutant cells, a gene defect that results in the absence of one prime entry gatekeeper that HIV generally needs to attack cells.
Although yet to appear in any peers review journal, Dr. Björn Jensen from Düsseldorf University, Germany, presented this latest potential cure at the International CROI, Seattle, where the “London patient” was also presented. The patient has stopped using his HIV drugs for 3.5 months and has remained HIV free.
The previous three cases of HIV remission after transplant without CCR5-delta 32 mutation, had the virus rebound at 3, 8 and 10 months respectively, so it would be impatient to declare the duo of the “London and Düsseldorf patients” free, who have just been HIV free for 18 and 3.5 months respectively. Usually, when HIV positive patients stop taking their medications, the virus rebounds within the first month. As it stands, the “Berlin patient”, who is now celebrating his 12th anniversary of freedom from the HIV scourge, is the only person in the world who has been cured of HIV.
Gupta cautioned that the method used is not appropriate for all patients, but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies.
Close to 37 million people worldwide are ravaged by HIV, with Nigeria leading this bane with the second largest HIV epidemic in the world. As plausible as this novel cure to HIV sounds, it would take a long while to reach the shores of Nigeria, even if it got perfected, considering the gamut of basic challenges her health sector is grappling with.