The University Hospital Düsseldorf reported that a patient had been in remission to HIV for more than ten years after transplantation of genetically modified bone marrow cells. This gives hope for the creation of anti-HIV therapy, which will help to fight this disease with guarantee. With tools like CRISPR, scientists can create the cells they need for treatment at any scale.
The story of the “Düsseldorf Patient” began with acute myeloid leukemia in 2008. A few years later, he was also diagnosed with HIV. German doctors decided to use this case to test the idea that both diseases can be cured by transplanting cells with a modified CCR5 gene. They specifically selected a donor with the desired mutation and performed a cell transplant in 2013.
A mutation in CCR5 removes the site in the gene that is responsible for docking the cell with HIV, which prevents its spread, but the main thing is that the virus can no longer “hide” inside the cells in order to reappear after treatment. This mechanism also works to counteract leukemia. Previously, “London” and “Berlin” patients were cured of HIV in the same way, but then scientists did not have the opportunity to control the state of the genome of cells for transplantation.
Success in curing a third person of HIV opens up incredible opportunities for medicine. If earlier it was necessary to select the necessary cellular material from rare donors, today it can be produced purposefully. There is no need to talk about a ready-made drug against HIV yet, but the direction for its creation has already been set.