As researchers around the world diligently search for a cure to HIV and aid in preventative measures, a second person has effectively been cured of the virus. The “London Patient,” as he has been called in the press, has also identified himself in the wake of the cure revelation.
As reported by the BBC, Venezuelan-born London resident Adam Castillejo, 40, was the recipient of a rare stem-cell treatment to combat Hodgkin lymphoma. He was given stem cells from donors who possess a gene that prevents HIV from developing within them and Castillejo now has the resistant gene. The procedure and its results were reported in the Lancet HIV journal.
In simple terms, the stem cell transplants block HIV from replicating inside Castillejo’s immune system cells and according to tests of bodily fluids, spinal fluid, and tissues, the virus is all but undetectable. Castillejo has been using medication to keep the virus in check since 2012, but for the past 30 months, he hasn’t needed to use them. Castillejo joins American Timothy Brown who in 2011 was announced as the first person cured of HIV from a similar stem cell procedure.
Researchers do caution that there is a possibility the virus might return and that the stem cell treatment was not aimed at the virus but instead it was used as a cancer treatment. Still, this proves that the technique used can further be studied and developed for wider use.
According to lead researcher Dr. Ravindra Kumar Gupta of the University of Cambridge, he writes, “It is important to note that this curative treatment is high-risk and only used as a last resort for patients with HIV who also have life-threatening haematological malignancies. Therefore, this is not a treatment that would be offered widely to patients with HIV who are on successful anti-retroviral treatment.”