Teams in labs around the world, as well as drug companies including Gilead Sciences, Johnson & Johnson and GSK's ViiV Healthcare, have very early-stage cure studies in the works, said Rowena Johnston, director of research at U.S. AIDS research foundation amfAR.
"UNAIDS is greatly encouraged by the news that an HIV-positive man has been functionally cured of HIV", said the agency in a press statement.
"Finding a way to eliminate the virus entirely is an urgent global priority, but is particularly hard because the virus integrates into the white blood cells of its host", Gupta explained.
Since the beginning of the epidemic, more than 70 million people have been infected with the HIV virus and about 35 million people have died of HIV. Nearly one million people die annually from HIV-related causes.
Millions of people infected with HIV around the world keep the disease in check with so-called antiretroviral therapy (ARV), but the treatment does not rid patients of the virus.
Both patients received bone marrow stem cells from donors with a rare genetic mutation known as "CCR5 delta 32", which confers resistance to HIV. If researchers can find a way to easily manipulate CCR5, perhaps with CRISPR gene editing, they could open up a path for H.I.V. patients to enter remission without undergoing invasive transplants.
As HIV researchers met in Seattle the day after it was reported in Nature that a second patient appears to have been cured of infection with the virus, excitement and questions hung in the air.
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"Single allo-HSCT with homozygous CCR5Δ32 donor cells may be sufficient to achieve HIV-1 remission with reduced intensity conditioning and no irradiation, and the findings further support the development of HIV remission strategies based on preventing CCR5 expression", Eduardo Olavarria of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and colleagues wrote.
After the transplant, the man's lymphoma went into remission and he experienced mild graft-versus-host disease, where the donor immune cells attack the recipient's body. But with only two cases of people who have been cured of HIV - and the British patient has been "cured" just 18 months - he said it's too soon to tell where this might lead.
He is only the second person documented to be in sustained remission without ARV.
Also important: as a report in The New York Times pointed out, the London Patient was not the first attempt to replicate the success with the Berlin Patient, only the first that seems to have not failed.
Many patients now have good control of their disease with treatments such as Gilead's anti-retroviral drug Biktarvy, which combines three HIV medicines in a single daily tablet.
It is the second such success after the "Berlin patient", who is 12 years post-transplant and still free of HIV. However, this new case adds to the evidence that using gene therapy to delete CCR5 receptors from T cells may be a feasible approach.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
This complex treatment involves destroying a person's own immune system with high doses of chemotherapy or radiation.