The extraordinary case of the Argentine patient who “eliminated HIV without treatment”

Blood samples in a laboratory

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An Argentine patient seems to have eliminated the HIV virus (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) from her body without medicine or treatment, in what would be the second documented case of this type in the world.

Doctors believe that the patient’s immune system cleared the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) on its own.

Upon examination of more than a billion of his cells, no remnants of the infection were found, reportedly reported in the medical journal. Archives of Internal Medicine.

Scientists believe that if they can figure out how the process occurred, they could find a way to find a definitive cure for HIV.

Eliminate HIV

The finding is further proof that some people are born naturally resilient to the virus.

Some have genes that prevent infection.

Others, including “patient hope,” as she has been called to respect her wish to remain anominate, appear to have been able to clear the virus after contracting it.

But most people need to take antiretroviral drugs for life to keep the virus at bay.

If you stop taking them, it can reactivate and cause problems again.

However, in recent years some reports have shown the existence of so-called “elite controllers”, who can suppress the virus with help, but without medication.

London-based Adam Castillejo was able to stop taking his pills daily after receiving stem cells from a donor to treat his cancer.

His HIV-infected cells were killed and replaced during his cancer treatment.

The person who donated the stem cells turned out to be part of the 1% of the population born with genes that prevent HIV from penetrating and infecting the cells.

It is not clear how long Castillejo will enjoy this beneficial effect.

The hope of “Hope”

But the patient “Esperanza” has not shown traces of the virus for more than 8 years.

Loreen Willenberg, from San Francisco (USA), also seems to have been cured thanks to her own immune system. And this offers hope of finding a “sterilizing cure” for other patients.

Researcher Xu Yu, from the Ragon Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, said: “There may be a viable route to a sterilizing cure for people who cannot do this on their own. “.

“We are studying the possibility of using vaccines to induce this type of immunity in patients who are on antiretroviral treatment, with the aim of educating their immune system to be able to control the virus without antiretroviral drugs.”

Abortive infection

Oxford University Professor John Frater told the BBC that while it is almost impossible to say that someone has been definitively cured of HIV, researchers have done “as much as could be expected of them with current technology” to try it.

“The key question is whether this patient has actually cured herself or instead had some kind of abortive infection, which she tried to break through, but was controlled in time.”

Man reads a folder on HIV.

EITAN ABRAMOVICH / Getty

Scientists are looking for ways to get the immune system to fight the virus without help.

“His immune system clearly shows a memory of being infected, so there is no question that it was.”

“In any case, there could be similar patients out there, offering a lot to learn in the search for an HIV cure.”

Professor Sarah Fidler, an HIV expert at Imperial College London, said this discovery would help design immune therapies currently in development.

But Andrew Freedman of Cardiff University Medical School said current HIV drugs are extraordinarily effective and, while seeking future treatments is important, ensuring access to life-changing antiretroviral treatment for patients, it is an urgent priority around the world.


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