All received stem cell transplants to treat cancer; however, sixth patient did not receive the transplant from a donor with a rare genetic abnormality that is resistant to HIV
By Physician’s Briefing Staff HealthDay Reporter
THURSDAY, July 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) — It is rare for someone with HIV to go into remission and be considered “cured,” but a European man may be the sixth to do so.
First diagnosed with HIV in 1990, the man had been taking antiretroviral drugs since 2005 and received a stem cell transplant two years ago to treat a rare type of blood cancer. Known as the “Geneva patient,” the Swiss man in his 50s is one of only six people who are considered to be definitely or possibly cured of HIV. The others had also received stem cell transplants for blood cancers, NBC News reported.
While the first five received the transplant from a donor with a rare genetic abnormality that is resistant to HIV, this man did not, NBC News reported. Scientists will hear more about the case at the IAS Conference on HIV Science, being held from July 23 to 26 in Brisbane, Australia.
The patient was treated with radiation, chemotherapy, and the stem cell transplant after being diagnosed in 2018 with an extramedullary myeloid tumor, NBC News reported.
A research team led by Asier SÃ¡ez-CiriÃ³n, Ph.D., head of the viral reservoirs and immune control unit at the Institute Pasteur in Paris, has overseen the case. The patient has undergone highly sensitive tests looking for signs of HIV in his body. So far, SÃ¡ez-CiriÃ³n and others have found just trace amounts of defective virus, NBC News reported.
The remission does not guarantee there is no possibility of viral rebound, even though the man was taken off antiretrovirals in November 2021. “The possibility of viral rebound is indeed a concern,” SÃ¡ez-CiriÃ³n told NBC News. “The virus may persist in rare infected blood cells or anatomical sites that we have not analyzed.”
The man also had repeated episodes of graft-versus-host disease, NBC News reported. The patient continues to receive immunosuppressive drugs to prevent graft-versus-host disease and this may be preventing replication of any residual HIV, SÃ¡ez-CiriÃ³n noted.
Several other patients who previously received stem cell transplants from donors without the rare genetic mutation have had the virus resurge months after stopping antiretroviral treatment and were not cured, NBC News reported.
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