The patient, treated at the University of Cambridge (UK) by Dr Ravindra Gupta and his team, suffered from a form of blood cancer that did not respond to chemotherapy, and was also suffering from HIV.
He underwent bone marrow and stem cell transplantation from a healthy donor, in particular from a person with a mutation in the CCR5 gene, which is responsible for resistance to HIV infection.
The researchers observed that the HIV virus disappeared completely from the patient’s blood after transplantation. In addition, 16 months after the operation, the patient stopped taking antiretroviral drugs, usually used in the treatment of HIV. Another 18 months after stopping the medication, the patient showed no signs of the virus. This is the second case in the world.
Before bone marrow and stem cell transplantation, the patient underwent chemotherapy and drug treatment specifically for cancer stem cells. He has not undergone radiotherapy, which particularly damages the bone marrow and makes patients very vulnerable. The study by Dr. Gupta and his team therefore also shows that this type of treatment do not necessarily need to be accompanied by more aggressive procedures, which can have very serious side effects.
Dr. Gupta also points out that this treatment is unfortunately not suitable for all people with HIV to date, but only for people who suffer with blood cancer and need a bone marrow transplant. Since this is an important procedure, which can sometimes be fatal, the risks of a bone marrow transplant are much higher than the risk of continuing antiretroviral drug treatment.