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Man Cured of HIV and Cancer Following Stem Cell Transplant


A 66-year-old man is free of HIV and cancer following the stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor for leukemia. The transplant came from the donor with a rare genetic mutation that makes people resistant to HIV.

The man who is a patient at City of Hope, the cancer research and treatment organization, was diagnosed with HIV in 1988, according to the press release by the organization.

In early 2019 he received the transplant for acute myelogenous leukemia from the unrelated donor with the rare genetic mutation, homozygous CCR5 Delta 32. That mutation makes people who have it resistant to acquiring HIV.

The man has been in remission of the virus for over 17 months after stopping antiretroviral therapy (ART) following the stem cell transplant. His doctors said that the patient had not shown any evidence of having replicating HIV since.

“We were thrilled to let him know that his HIV is in remission and he no longer needs to take antiretroviral therapy that he had been on for over 30 years,” said Jana K. Dickter, MD, City of Hope associate clinical professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases

“The City of Hope patient’s case, if the right donor can be identified, may open up the opportunity for more older patients living with HIV and blood cancers to receive a stem cell transplant and go into remission for both diseases,” Dickter added.

Before the transplant, the patient received a chemotherapy-based, reduced-intensity transplant regimen, which is, according to the City of Hope, more tolerable for older patients and reduces the potential for transplant-related complications from the procedure.

More successful cases

It is not the first time HIV and cancer patients have gone into remission of both following the stem cell transplant.

In 2006, a man received two transplants from a person with natural resistance to HIV for leukemia. By the time of his death in 2020, he had been free of HIV for more than 13 years, NAM aidsmap reports.

Another man, the “London patient,” underwent stem cell transplantation to treat Hodgkin lymphoma from a donor with CCR5 Delta 32 genetic mutation in 2016. The patient stopped ART 16 months after the transplant and has been HIV-free.

In February 2022, researchers announced that a woman had been in remission from HIV for 14 months after receiving umbilical cord blood cells as a treatment for her acute myeloid leukemia.

Two “Boston patients” received bone-marrow transplants to treat the blood cancer lymphoma — one in 2008 and another in 2010. However, the transplants came from donors with cells that were not resistant to HIV.

As patients had been HIV-free for months after they stopped ATR, their physicians thought they had been cured by graft-versus-host disease. It is a complication of transplants, in which transplanted cells attack the body’s immune cells. It was speculated that transplanted cells had eliminated all remaining HIV-infected cells.

However, the virus rebounded in both patients.

Resources:

1. City of Hope. Patient achieves HIV and blood cancer remission three decades after HIV diagnosis through stem cell transplant at City of Hope.

2. NAM aidsmap. California man appears to be another person cured of HIV after a stem cell transplant.

3. University of California, Los Angeles. In study led by UCLA professor, woman with HIV is in remission.

4. Nature. Hopes of HIV cure in 'Boston patients' dashed.

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