2nd HIV patient in 'sustained remission,' physicians say

Physicians used a stem cell transplant to achieve "sustained remission" in a patient with HIV infection for the second time in recorded history, according to Nature.

Physicians at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. replaced the patient's white blood cells with HIV-resistant cells via a stem cell transplant. The virus did not return 18 months after the patient, whose identity was not disclosed, stopped taking antiretroviral drugs. However, researchers ruled it is too early to definitively say whether the individual — deemed the "London patient" — has been cured.

Researchers first used the stem cell technique 12 years ago on a man named Timothy Ray Brown who is still HIV-free. Since then, researchers have been trying to replicate the procedure.

Along with a shared HIV diagnosis, both patients had a form of blood cancer that did not respond to chemotherapy. Both required a bone marrow transplant, which allowed physicians to introduce HIV-resistant stem cells into their bodies.

While this treatment would not work for every HIV patient, the breakthrough proves Mr. Brown's remission was not a one-off and may open the door for other new treatments.

A full paper detailing the second patient's treatment and remission will be published March 5 in Nature.

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