Photo: Manuel Valdes Associated Press
Timothy Ray Brown, photographed Monday in Seattle, has been declared cured of HIV in 2007.
The remission of a man with HIV, the second case in history, comes to restore hope to the researchers to find new methods to cure the patients living with this disease, which still kills a million people every year.
“There was a feeling in the congress these past few years that it was in the process of lowering the arm, let it be said that the aids cure may be just not. It will give a renewed interest and stimulate the search for other strategies to cure the disease, ” says the president of the medical clinic at the Present, Dr. Réjean Thomas.
This is the second time that an hiv-positive experiencing durable remission after stopping treatment. This new case was made public Tuesday by the scientific journal Nature and presented by researchers at a conference on aids in Seattle.
Known as “the patient” of London, the man shows no sign of the virus for almost 19 months and is regarded by physicians as ” probably cured “. A bone marrow transplant to treat initially his cancer had been cured of HIV.
In 2007, the situation was much the same with the American Timothy Ray Brown, said “the patient from Berlin” — the first in the world to have recovered from the disease. But he had undergone two bone marrow transplants and radiation on the whole body.
In both cases, bone marrow transplantation has altered the immune system of both hiv-positive and had transferred stem cells donor with a rare genetic mutation that prevents the HIV from getting a foothold.
At the present time, patients with HIV must take antiretroviral therapy (ARV) and take daily pills to continue to live with the disease. However, of the 37 million people affected by HIV throughout the world, only 59% receive treatment.
Procedure little viable
“It doesn’t mean that we are going to do a bone marrow transplant to all people living with HIV,” warns Dr Thomas. Donors whose genetics enables us not to acquire HIV does not run the streets, he notes.
“The HIV receptor, CCR5, is involved in the genetic mutation. But less than 1 % of the world population has a mutation of the complete CCR5 and is therefore immune to HIV-related conditions “.
It reminds us that this discovery dates back to over fifteen years. A study on women prostitutes in africa who have never contracted HIV despite hundreds of sexual partners they had had had found the existence of this mutation.
In addition, bone marrow transplantation remains a procedure dangerous and does not work all the time. It can also lead to serious complications and even death of patients. “It would be insane to do transplants in people who take a pill a day and remain in superforme even living with the disease,” says Jean-Pierre Routy, a researcher in HIV and hematologist at the McGill university health Centre (MUHC).
If the systematic post-transplant of bone marrow, therefore, is not an avenue option, the latest results in the field will allow researchers to “focus their efforts” on some aspects of the research in order to find other techniques leading to the healing.
“Two out of tens of millions of people living with HIV, it seems little, but it shows that it is possible, that this is not just a stroke of luck. This is not a fight unrealistic, and it has very serious support, “says Dr. Routy, who was present in Seattle on Tuesday at the time of the announcement of the” good news “.
He hoped, moreover, that the pharmaceutical industry will be further to the appointment for support research in the field, deeming the fight against cancer has reaped the largest part of the budget in recent years.
“The question of healing is complex, it is especially advanced in terms of treatments and it tramples on the creation of a vaccine. But what we know today, is that one should never lose hope, ” says his side Réjean Thomas.
With Agence France-Presse