Third person, the Duesseldorf patient, declared HIV-free following a stem cell transplant.
A study announced that a man nicknamed “the Duesseldorf patient” had become the third person to be cured of HIV through a stem cell transplant. In addition to treating his leukemia, the high-risk procedure also eliminated the HIV virus.
The two prior instances of cured individuals with both HIV and cancer were reported in scientific journals after undergoing the same procedure in Berlin and London. Now, the details of the Duesseldorf patient’s successful treatment have been published in the journal Nature Medicine.
The now 53-year-old man, whose identity remains undisclosed, received a diagnosis of HIV in 2008, followed by acute myeloid leukemia, a life-threatening type of blood cancer, three years later.
In 2013, the patient underwent a bone marrow transplant, where stem cells were taken from a female donor with a unique mutation in her CCR5 gene. This mutation has been discovered to inhibit HIV from entering cells.
In 2018, the Duesseldorf patient discontinued his antiretroviral therapy for HIV.
Over the next four years, the patient underwent regular testing, and no evidence of HIV resurfaced in his body.
The study concluded that this marks the “third case of HIV-1 cure”, offering “critical insights that can guide future cure approaches.”
The patient released a statement expressing his pride in his “team of doctors from around the world who successfully cured him of HIV and leukemia.”
He celebrated the 10-year anniversary of his transplant on Valentine’s Day, and the donor was his special guest of honor.
Two additional cases of people with HIV and cancer, referred to as the New York and City of Hope patients, were announced at separate scientific conferences last year. However, research on these cases is yet to be published.
Although a cure for HIV has been a longstanding goal, the bone marrow transplant used in these instances is a complex and risky procedure, and is only viable for a limited number of individuals with both HIV and blood cancer.
Additionally, locating a bone marrow donor with the rare CCR5 mutation can present a significant obstacle.
According to Asier Saez-Cirion, one of the co-authors of the study from France’s Pasteur Institute, the transplant completely replaces the patient’s immune cells with those of the donor, enabling most of the infected cells to vanish.
“This is an exceptional situation when all the factors coincide for this transplant to be a successful cure for both leukemia and HIV,” he said.