A UK patient’s HIV has become “undetectable” following a stem cell transplant – in only the second case of its kind, doctors report in Nature.
The London 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 researchers say it is too early to say the patient is “cured” of HIV.
Experts say the approach is not practical for treating most people with HIV but may one day help find a cure.
The male London patient, who has not been named, was diagnosed with HIV in 2003 and advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2012.
He had chemotherapy to treat the Hodgkin’s cancer and, in addition, stem cells were implanted into the patient from a donor resistant to HIV, leading to both his cancer and HIV going into remission.
Researchers from University College London, Imperial College London, Cambridge and Oxford Universities were all involved in the case.
Although the finding is exciting, it is not offering up a new treatment for the millions of people around the world living with HIV.
The aggressive therapy was primarily used to treat the patient’s cancer, not his HIV.
Current HIV therapies are really effective, meaning people with the virus can live long and healthy lives.
But the reason this case is so significant is that it could help experts who are looking for new ways to tackle HIV and achieve a cure.
Understanding how the body can naturally resist the infection does offer up hope of this, even if it is still a long way off.