A second patient emerged in the world that was treated by HIV through bone marrow transplantation. Unlike the first healing, which is actually accidental, this event allows us to count on the emergence of a reliable treatment method.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a disease that passes to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) in advanced stages and is not likely to be cured. Causes a degradation of the human immune system, leading to death from any ordinary disease. According to WHO, in 2017, more than 35 million people living with HIV were living in the world, about one million people died in a year. Russia, after the results of 2017, has become the leader in the number of new HIV cases, ahead of all European countries in this indicator and shares this sad leadership with Ukraine and Belarus (in 2018, the situation could be slightly improved) . The disease has gone beyond traditional risk groups, such as injection drug addicts, and one of the most typical situations to diagnose is the preventive examination prescribed for pregnant women when they are registered.
Treatment for life
However, HIV ceased to be a fatal disease and has progressed to the degree of chronic due to the invention of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Combined drugs block the development of the virus in several stages, reduce the viral load in the patient and allow the immune system to recover. The difficulty lies in the fact that this therapy must be applied throughout life – as soon as it stops, the virus returns. Furthermore, drugs are expensive, HIV is a taboo subject, and it is often difficult for patients to seek help, that is to say publicly acknowledge their status. All this, together with the poverty of many African and Asian countries where HIV is prevalent, does not allow the epidemic to stop. According to the United Nations "90-90-90" plan, by 2020 it is necessary that 90% of people living with HIV know their diagnosis, 90% of them have received antiretroviral therapy and 90 % has an undetectable level of virus in the blood.
Since there are many social and economic barriers on this way, scientists leave no hope of finding a more reliable method to fight HIV that does not require permanent work with a patient. One of the directions is the development of a vaccine that could provide the body with the necessary antibodies. Popular science websites periodically write about progress in this area, but so far no vaccine exists. Another direction is genetics. The fact is that a rather large proportion of humanity is resistant to HIV. These people have mutated in the so-called CCR5 gene – about 1% of the population in Europe is resistant to HIV: the virus may be present in the blood, but it can not interact with the receptor on the surface of cells that would otherwise be his victims. Such people can also be carriers of HIV, but they do not get sick on their own. And scientists are looking for opportunities to "provide" people with a useful mutation.
Recently a Chinese geneticist He Jiangkui has been used – much in the face and not legally enough. He genetically modified several people – in the embryonic phase – to make them immune to HIV. Two of them – the twins Lulu and Nana – were already born, which caused a series of criticisms both in China and in the scientific community worldwide. But you can "instill" the desired modification of the adult patient. For example, transplant it with a donor resistant to bone marrow HIV.