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  • 06 March, 2023

  • 5 Min Read

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

  • With the virus undetectable in his body even 4 years after discontinuing the medication, a man from Germany has become at least the third person to have been cured of HIV.

Main point:

  • The third person to have an HIV "cure" after receiving a bone marrow transplant from an HIV-resistant donor is a 53-year-old German male.
  • The transplant was done to cure blood cancer, and even four years after he stopped taking antiretroviral medication, the HIV infection was still undetectable in his body.
  • The female donor who provided the patient's stem cells had an uncommon mutation in her CCR5 gene, which prevents HIV from entering cells.
  • The procedure employed in this case, a severe and risky bone marrow transplant, is only appropriate under very specific circumstances or for a small percentage of HIV-positive and blood cancer patients.
  • The report claims that this instance of HIV-1 cure "offers "important insights that, one hopes, will direct future treatment techniques,"

What is HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus?

  • The immune system of the body's CD4-producing T cells is attacked by HIV.
  • T cells are circulating cells in the body that look for abnormalities and infections in other cells.
  • HIV replicates once inside the body, decimates CD4 cells, and seriously compromises the human immune system.
  • This virus cannot be eliminated once it has entered the body.
  • An individual with HIV has a significantly lower CD4 count. The CD4 count ranges from 500 to 1600 in a healthy person, but it can go as low as 200 in an infected person.
  • HIV is a type of lentivirus, which is a subtype of the retrovirus.
    • HIV infection is brought on by AIDS, which eventually results in AIDS-related immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
  • A person with AIDS loses their immune function, which allows malignancies and life-threatening diseases to spread throughout their body.
  • T-helper cells and a specific subset of WBCs (White Blood Cells) are destroyed by HIV.
  • HIV can be transmitted by the exchange of blood, breast milk, vaginal fluid, semen, or pre-ejaculate.

Status of HIV/AIDS in India:

  • The estimated adult (15 to 49 years) HIV prevalence trend in India has decreased from the epidemic's peak in 2000 and has stabilised in recent years, according to the India HIV Estimate 2019 report.
  • In 2019, it was estimated that 0.24% of adult males and 0.20% of adult females worldwide had HIV.
  • In 2019, there were 23.48 lakh HIV-positive individuals in India. The most people were in Maharashtra, followed by Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

CCR5 mutation: what is it?

  • In the human body, CD4 immune cells are the primary target of HIV.
  • The HIV virus enters the body through the CCR5 receptors on the surface of CD4 immune cells.
  • Nevertheless, the CCR5-delta 32 mutation blocks the formation of these surface-bound HIV viral receptors, essentially closing the door.
  • Although there have been some cases documented, people with the mutation are essentially immune to HIV infection.
  • It is present in 1% of people and blocks the development of CCR5 receptors on CD4 immune cells, which serve as a portal for the HIV virus.
  • While persons with one copy of the mutation are less likely to get the virus, those with two copies are almost resistant to HIV.

What difficulties do HIV patients face when having these receptors transplanted?

  • HIV patients are overrepresented - Few people and about 38.4 million HIV-positive people worldwide have mutations.
  • Finding a donor who is a good match is quite challenging.
  • Limited donor pool – The mutation is more common among Caucasians, thereby limiting the donor pool.
  • Bone marrow is at high risk. High hazards come with transplantation, particularly the danger of the recipient rejecting the donated bone marrow.
  • In these people, there is also a chance that the virus will mutate and find new ways to infiltrate the cells.
  • It seems doubtful that bone marrow transplants will be made available to everyone with HIV because they are a risky and complicated process.
  • A bone marrow transplant is a medical procedure that substitutes healthy cells for the patient's own bone marrow. It is possible for the replacement cells to come from the patient's own body or from a donor.
  • A hematopoietic stem cell transplant, or simply a stem cell transplant, is another name for a bone marrow transplant.
  • The virus could change and find new ways to penetrate cells, rendering the treatment useless.

About Stem cell:

  • Undifferentiated, or "blank," cells are stem cells. This indicates that they have the capacity to differentiate into cells with a wide range of functions in various body regions.
  • They have the capacity to repeatedly divide to create new cells.
  • They can transform into the different types of cells that make up the body as they divide.
Different Stem Cells:
  • In general, there are two types of stem cells. Adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells are what they are.
  • Embryonic stem cells: Unwanted embryos are the source of the embryonic stem cells used in research today. These are the end result of in vitro fertilization. These have been given to science. These pluripotent embryonic stem cells are. This implies that they have the ability to transform into various cell types.
  • Adult stem cells come in two different varieties.
  • One type originates from tissues that are completely grown, like the bone marrow, skin, and brain. These tissues only contain a very modest amount of stem cells. They are more likely to produce only particular cell types. For instance, a stem cell from the liver will only produce further liver cells.
  • Incremented pluripotent stem cells are the second kind. They are adult stem cells that have undergone laboratory modification to resemble embryonic stem cells more closely. Although induced pluripotent stem cells appear to be similar to embryonic stem cells, they are not yet known to be capable of giving rise to all known types of cells and tissues.

Source: The Hindu

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