Follow up emails, however, convinced the 45-year-old it was indeed true. “I was happy and surprised that long-forgotten virologists like me are on the list this year. It’s because of Covid-19 that the work of virologists is being recognised,” Gupta told TOI.
Gupta is credited with curing a man of HIV last year, only the second such case in the world. The patient, Adam Castillejo, also known as the London patient, is the one who has penned down the write-up on Gupta in the magazine.
Gupta got involved in Castillejo’s case — also a cancer patient — in 2015. Castillejo was to undergo a bone marrow transplant to treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The donated stem cells that Castillejo was to receive contained a unique mutation known to provide resistance against HIV. This had been demonstrated in case of Timothy Ray Brown, the first person to be cured of HIV through a bone marrow transplant in 2007.
So the virologist designed a special antiretroviral treatment to be administered to the patient before and after the transplant. In 2019, the patient was declared free of the virus.
Gupta’s work sparked hope of an HIV cure, but he believes we are still a long way from finding a cure for 40 million people with HIV in the world. The professor, born in England to parents who had migrated from UP in the 1970s, has led clinical trials of a rapid Covid-19 testing system in the UK earlier this year. In April 2020, a machine originally designed for HIV blood testing was modified to test throat and nose samples.
Gupta is hopeful that Covid-19 vaccines would be available soon, “but they may only be partially successful, at least initially. People will have to re-vaccinate. A fool-proof vaccine might take up to a year.