Timothy Ray Brown
Timothy Ray Brown (born 1966) is an American considered to be the first person cured of HIV/AIDS. Brown was called "The Berlin Patient" at the 2008 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, where his cure was first announced, in order to preserve his anonymity, and because he lived in, and was treated in Berlin. He chose to come forward in late-2010. “I didn’t want to be the only person cured,” he said. “I wanted to do what I could to make [a cure] possible. My first step was releasing my name and image to the public.”
Eleven years later, nearly on the same date, at the same conference, it was announced that it appeared that a second man had been cured; he was called the "London Patient." He also received a bone marrow transplant to treat a cancer (Hodgkin's lymphoma) but was given weaker immunosuppressive drugs. The selected donor also carried the CCR5-Δ32 mutation.
Brown was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 while studying in Berlin, Germany. In 2007 he underwent a procedure known as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation to treat leukemia (performed by a team of doctors in Berlin, Germany, including Gero Hütter). From 60 matching donors, they selected a [CCR5]-Δ32 homozygous individual with two genetic copies of a rare variant of a cell surface receptor. This genetic trait confers resistance to HIV infection by blocking attachment of HIV to the cell. Roughly 10% of people of European or Western Asian ancestry have this inherited mutation, but it is rarer in other populations. The transplant was repeated a year later after a leukemia relapse. Over the three years after the initial transplant, and despite discontinuing antiretroviral therapy, researchers could not detect HIV in Brown's blood or in various biopsies. Levels of HIV-specific antibodies in Timothy Brown's blood also declined, suggesting that functional HIV may have been eliminated from his body. However, scientists studying his case warn that this remission of HIV infection is unusual.
Brown, the "Berlin patient", suffered from graft-versus-host disease and leukoencephalopathy – both transplant complications that are potentially fatal. This means that the procedure should not be performed on others with HIV, even if sufficient numbers of suitable donors could be found.
As of 2017, six more people also appear to have been cleared of HIV after getting graft-versus-host disease; only one of them had received CCR5 mutant stem cells, so it appears that when a transplant recipient has graft-versus-host disease the transplanted cells may kill off the host's HIV-infected immune cells.
Timothy Ray Brown Foundation
In July 2012, Brown announced the formation of the Timothy Ray Brown Foundation in Washington, DC, a foundation dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS.
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