A UK male patient's HIV has become "undetectable" following a stem cell transplant -- in only the second such case of its kind in the world, scientists led by an Indian-origin researcher reported Tuesday in a case study published in the journal Nature.
The patient, who was being treated for cancer, has now been in remission from HIV for 18 months and is no longer taking HIV drugs, the BBC reported.
"By achieving remission in a second patient using a similar approach, we have shown that the Berlin patient was not an anomaly and that it really was the treatment approaches that eliminated HIV in these two people," said lead study author Professor Ravindra Gupta, from the University College London (UCL) in the UK.
Ten years ago, another patient in Berlin, Germany, received a bone-marrow transplant from a donor with natural immunity to the virus.
Both patients were treated with stem cell transplants from donors who carried a rare genetic mutation, known as CCR5-delta 32, that made them resistant to HIV.
However, researchers cautioned that it is too early to say the patient is "cured" of HIV.
Professor Eduardo Olavarria, also involved in the research, from Imperial College London, said the success of stem cell transplantation offered hope that new strategies could be developed to tackle the virus.
"The treatment is not appropriate as a standard HIV treatment because of the toxicity of chemotherapy, which in this case was required to treat the lymphoma," he added.
CCR5 is the most commonly used receptor by HIV-1 - the virus strain of HIV that dominates around the world - to enter cells.
However, a very small number of people who are resistant to HIV have two mutated copies of the CCR5 receptor.
This means the virus cannot penetrate cells in the body that it normally infects.
But a reservoir of cells carrying HIV can still remain in the body, in a resting state, for many years.
Gupta added that the method used is not appropriate for all patients but offers hope for new treatment strategies, including gene therapies.
He and his colleagues will continue to monitor the man's condition, as it is still too early to say that he has been cured of HIV, CNN reported.
Almost one million people die annually from HIV-related causes. Treatment for HIV involves medications that suppress the virus, known as antiretroviral therapy, which people with HIV need to take for their entire lives.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)