Man in remission from blood cancer and HIV after remarkable treatment | US News

Doctors say a California man who contracted blood cancer while living with HIV is in remission from both life-threatening illnesses thanks to a treatment they consider remarkable and encouraging.

Paul Edmonds is only the fifth person known in the world to be in remission from acute myeloid leukemia and HIV, according to a recent study. Press release from City of Hope, the national cancer institute that provided him with medical care.

Edmonds, of Desert Hot Springs, California, underwent treatment in which he received stem cells with a rare genetic mutation that makes sufferers resistant to HIV. The stem cell transplant came from a donor with the rare homozygous CCR5 delta mutation.

At 68, Edmonds became the oldest person to beat blood cancer before also achieving remission from HIV, City of Hope said. City of Hope also said that of the five people known to have overcome both illnesses, Edmonds was the one who had HIV the longest, about 31 years.

The Edmonds findings were recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. City of Hope said its case demonstrates how older people with blood cancer who undergo reduced-intensity chemotherapy, then receive a stem cell transplant with HIV-resistant donor cells, can be rid of HIV.

“It is possible to achieve HIV remission even at older ages and after living with HIV for many years,” said Jana Dickter, clinical professor in the division of infectious diseases at City of Hope. “As people living with HIV continue to live longer, there will be more opportunities for personalized treatments for their blood cancers. »

In a YouTube videoEdmonds said he hopes his experience “gives hope to people living with HIV,” adding: “I want to remember everyone we have lost. »

He had previously said City of Hope that he felt like he had been sentenced to death when he was diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in 1988. He underwent antiretroviral treatment for HIV, which brought the virus levels down to undetectable levels, but it failed to cure him of the disease.

That began to change for Edmonds when he also developed acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. Part of his treatment for this blood cancer involved receiving a stem cell donation, which had the added benefit of carrying a genetic mutation linked to HIV resistance.

No more than 2% of people to have the mutation, according to Scientific alert. But one of those people was a donor match for Edmonds. City of Hope connected Edmonds with this person through its blood stem cell and bone marrow transplant program.

Edmonds received bone marrow and blood stem cells from the donor in 2019. The process left his bone marrow and blood stem cells completely replaced with those from his donor.

His doctors said Edmonds has since shown no signs of leukemia or HIV. They consider him cured of leukemia because his last treatment for cancer – the transplant itself – was more than five years ago.

He also hasn’t taken antiretroviral treatment for HIV in almost three years, giving him two years before doctors also consider him cured of HIV.

One of the main reasons Edmonds tolerated the transplant so well is that he had previously undergone chemotherapy treatments that were reduced in intensity. This strategy aimed to reduce the risk of complications after the transplant, his doctors explained.

Edmonds said he was “extremely grateful” for his treatment at City of Hope Clinical Research Hospital in Duarte, California. Duarte is located about two hours from Desert Hot Springs, forcing him and his husband to live intermittently in a hotel and rely on help from longtime friends.

“Many doctors, scientists, nurses, supportive care professionals and others have led people to be cured of leukemia and into remission from HIV,” Edmonds said. “I can’t thank them enough.”

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