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The Berlin Patient: First Person to Be Cured of HIV

Updated on April 17, 2019
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"Timothy Ray Brown is considered to be the first patient who survived AIDS after combating the syndrome for about 12 years"

Timothy Ray Brown

Timothy Ray Brown is an american who was born in 1966. While he was at the University of Berlin in 1995, he received a positive Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) diagnosis. After surviving 12 years with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 2007, he received a bone marrow transplantation which led to the permanent elimination of HIV from his body. Brown is known to be The Berlin Patient because he was treated in Berlin, Germany.

Timothy Ray Brown (1966-Present)
Timothy Ray Brown (1966-Present) | Source

HIV and AIDS

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is usually caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which involves a plethora of symptoms followed by the infection. Upon infection the viruses attack the T helper cell (CD4 cell) which is the predominant controller of cell mediated adaptive immunity in human body.

After infection the T helper cells decrease so rapidly that leaves the defensive system of the body too vulnerable to opportunistic diseases caused by additional infections. This disease is usually caused by the transmission of body fluids (semen, blood, milk) containing the virus from one to another.

This virus can even integrate the viral genome inside the cells of infected individual and leave the patient asymptomatic for up to almost 10 years. Currently it has no permanent cure and considered to be deadliest among all since it carries the patient to death anyhow.

Brown with AIDS and Subsequent Treatment

After the diagnosis of HIV, Brown had to go through multiple and extended treatments. Immediately after the infection, he found that he had anemia and took blood transfusion. But in another treatment he was confirmed to have leukemia rather than anemia after a bone marrow biopsy.

After that, he was sent to an oncologist to have four rounds of chemotherapy. He passed two rounds very well but third round set him under severe infection.


Bone Marrow Transplantation of Brown

The chemotherapy regimen was stopped there and doctors took the blood sample to check the tissue type in case he needed any transplantation. Doctors found almost 267 donors with appropriate matches to donate stem cells. In the mean time, doctors found a mutation CCR5 Delta 32 on the CD4 cells making them nearly immune to HIV.

CCR5 is a membrane protein on the surface of the CD4 cell that acts as point of entry for the HIV into the cell. Taking away this entryway from CD4 cells prevents the HIV from entering the cells.

On February 6, 2007, Brown received his transplantation and after that he stopped taking antivirals. After 3 months of transplantation, Brown was diagnosed and confirmed to have no HIV in his blood

Current and Future Prospects of HIV Treatment

How the transplantation worked on Brown is still poorly understood. But the count 1 is always better than 0 which reflects the positive indication of success in this particular field.

Since the discovery of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in 1983, significant progress has been made toward the discovery, development, and licensing of anti-HIV drugs. Achievements have already been unlocked in screening HIV. Lack of appropriate funding in research and clinical subject are the major hurdles in the progress.

But the researchers are still in the search for a permanent cure and hopefully the trick will hit the market very soon.



References:

  • Brown T. R. (2015). I am the Berlin patient: a personal reflection. AIDS research and human retroviruses, 31(1), 2–3. doi:10.1089/AID.2014.0224
  • Brown, T. R. (2018). Timothy Ray Brown's continuing activism toward curing HIV. AIDS research and human retroviruses, 34(1), 9-11.
  • Johnston, M. I., & Hoth, D. F. (1993). Present status and future prospects for HIV therapies. Science, 260(5112), 1286-1293.
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV/AIDS
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Patient

In case you need any clarification and find any misinformation, please contact the author.


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