A 40-year-old former chef, Adam Castillejo, has revealed to The New York Times that he is “the London patient,” only the second person in the world that physicians believe has been cured of an HIV infection. The medical intervention that apparently cured both people is not widely applicable at this time, however. Castillejo’s doctor first described the London patient last year at an HIV/AIDS conference and in a Nature paper. At the time, no HIV had been detected in Castillejo’s blood for 18 months after a stem cell transplant to treat a life-threatening blood cancer, but his doctor was reluctant to call him cured. A similar procedure, which used bloodmaking stem cells with a mutation that made the cells highly resistant to HIV infection, led to the first cure in 2007. That transplant recipient, Timothy Ray Brown (initially known as “the Berlin ‘patient”), has been counseling Castillejo about the impact of going public. “The long-term control of HIV in this patient suggests that the Berlin patient is not a one-off case,” stem cell researcher Deng Hongkui of Peking University tells Science. Deng last year reported in The New England Journal of Medicine his group’s attempt to do a similar experiment, which used the genome editor CRISPR to modify a donor’s stem cells and mimic the natural mutation, but it did not work.
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