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‘Patient Esperanza’: Women’s bodies may have ‘sterilizing methods’ for HIV

Researchers say they have found a second patient whose body appears to have cleared itself of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS – raising hope that one day there is could find a cure for more people infected with this virus.

The patient received no routine treatment for her infection but was a rare “elite controller” for the virus, eight years after she was first diagnosed, the researchers said. , there was no sign of an active infection and no sign of the virus intact in her body. Second. This has only been reported once before.

An international team of scientists reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine that the patient, originally from the city of Esperanza, Argentina, had no evidence of intact HIV in a large number of her cells, suggests that she may have achieved what they describe spontaneously. “disinfection cures” HIV infection.

The 30-year-old woman in the new study is only the second patient described to have achieved a cure for this sterilization disease without help from a stem cell transplant or other treatment. Another patient described as achieving this is a 67-year-old woman named Loreen Willenberg.

“A sterilization cure for HIV has previously been observed in only two patients with highly toxic bone marrow transplants. Our study shows that such a cure can also be achieved in natural infection process – in the absence of a bone marrow transplant (or of any kind,” Dr. Xu Yu, of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT, and Harvard, the study’s author, wrote in an email to CNN on Monday.

“The examples of a naturally evolving cure show that current efforts to find a cure for HIV infection are not elusive, and the prospect of a cure,” Yu writes. ‘the generation without AIDS’ can succeed.”

Yu, Dr. Natalia Laufer of Argentina, and their colleagues analyzed blood samples obtained from 30-year-old HIV patients between 2017 and 2020. She gave birth in March 2020, allowing the scientists to placental tissue collection.

Researchers note: The patient was first diagnosed with HIV in March 2013. She started off antiretroviral therapy until 2019, when she became pregnant and started treatment with tenofovir, emtricitabine and raltegravir for six months during her second and third trimesters, the researchers noted. After giving birth to a healthy HIV-negative child, she discontinued therapy.

An analysis of billions of cells in her blood and tissue samples showed that she had been infected with HIV before, but during the analysis, the researchers found no intact virus capable of HIV infection. regenerative. All they could find were seven defective spare regions – a form of the virus that is incorporated into the host cell’s genetic material as part of the replication cycle.

The researchers weren’t sure how the patient’s body was able to clear itself of the intact, replicating virus but, “we think it’s a combination of different immune mechanisms – cells T cytotoxicity may be involved, innate immune mechanisms may also contribute,” Yu wrote in his email.

“Expanding the number of individuals potentially curative for sterilization will facilitate our discovery of the immune factors that lead to this sterilization cure in a broad population of people living with HIV. “

About 38 million people are living with HIV around the world. When left untreated, the infection can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. Last year, around 690,000 people worldwide died from AIDS-related diseases.

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