FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Experts are calling it a breakthrough for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. A London man appears to be free of the virus, after receiving a stem cell treatment.
For only the second time in history, researchers believe they've cured an HIV infected patient of the potentially deadly virus.
“This is really exciting news,” said Doctor Rowena Johnston, Vice President and Director of Research amfAR.
The latest person, known as the "London Patient" had leukemia and received a stem cell transplant to treat the cancer.
The donor's cells had a protein known to resist HIV.
“he has now stopped taking antiretroviral therapy for 18 months, and our researchers are unable to find any HIV in his body,” said Johnston.
Doctor Rowena Johnston oversaw the team at amfAR, the foundation for AIDS research. She says this is more evidence that a similar treatment which cured another man 12 years ago, can be successfully repeated.
“The only people who are going to be cured this way are people who have both HIV and cancer. And whatever the kind of cancer is they need a stem cell transplant,” said Johnston.
Timothy Ray Brown is the berlin patient, the first person cured of the virus after having two stem cell transplants. He nearly died from complications, but recovered, and is still HIV-free.
"I knew I was the only person cured of HIV at that point and I didn't want to be the only person,” said Ray Brown.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is in charge of government HIV research, cautions: "This approach is risky, not feasible and not scalable, and so while interesting, it really does not advance the field very much.” But, he points out that it may have relevance for gene editing in the future.