The first man to be cured of HIV infection is now down with cancer.
The man, Timothy Ray Brown announced that he is now terminally ill from a recurrence of the cancer that induced his notable treatment 12 years ago.
Brown used to work as an American translator in Berlin in the 1990s when he discovered that he had HIV. In 2006, he got diagnosed with leukemia.
Brown, also known as “the Berlin patient” due to the fact that he lived in Berlin at the time, had a transplant from a donor with a unique, natural resistance to the AIDS virus.
It was believed that the transplant had cured his leukemia and his HIV infection and he still exhibits no indications of HIV.
During an interview with the Associated Press, Brown revealed that his cancer reoccured last year and has dispersed widely. He’s now placed on hospice care where he lives presently in Palm Springs, California.
About his transplant:
“I’m still glad that I had it,” Brown said.
“It opened up doors that weren’t there before and inspired scientists to work harder to find a cure, which many had begun to think was not possible”
Dr. Steven Deeks, an AIDS specialist at the University of California, San Francisco said “Timothy proved that HIV can be cured, but that’s not what inspires me about him,”
Dr. Steven Deeks was at that time working with Brown to enhance research toward a cure.
“We took pieces of his gut, we took pieces of his lymph nodes. Every time he was asked to do something, he showed up with amazing grace,” Deeks said.
Dr. Gero Huetter, a blood cancer expert at the University of Berlin, was of the opinion that a marrow transplant was Brown’s most reasonable chance of recovering from the leukemia.
He was of the opinion that he might also be able to cure Brown’s HIV by using a donor with a gene mutation that delivers natural resistance to the AIDS virus?
Donors like these are always very unique and transplants are dangerous. This is because the doctors will be required to destroy the patient’s diseased immune system with chemotherapy and radiation, and then transplant the donor’s cells with the hope they generate into a new immune system for the recipient.
Brown’s first transplant occurred in 2007 and was not completely. His HIV was cured but his leukemia was not. In March 2008, a second transplant was carried out from the same donor which appeared to be successful.
“He’s been like an ambassador of hope,” said Brown’s partner, Tim Hoeffgen.
Another man, Adam Castillejo — dubbed “the London patient” until he disclosed his identity earlier this year — he is also speculated to have been cured by a transplant identical to Brown’s in 2016.
Researchers have been examining gene therapy and other methods to acquire the effect of the acceptable gene mutation without the need of a transplant.
Mark King, a Baltimore writer for a blog for people with HIV, explained that he talked with Brown earlier this week and is appreciative for what Brown has rendered to AIDS research.
“It is unfathomable what value he has been to the world as a subject of science. And yet this is also a human being who is a kind, humble guy who certainly never asked for the spotlight,” King said. “I think the world of him.”