Today the world celebrated the second patient cured of HIV. The work of Ravindra Gupta teaches us lessons not only of the potential for an HIV cure in the future, but how that cure may function. While a bone marrow transplant is not a practical way to cure HIV in most patients, the mechanism of action likely holds the key to future advancement. At AGT we are using the lessons taught to us by previous work to advance what we hope to be a broadly applicable commercial cure.
In a New York Times article published yesterday (H.I.V. Is Reported Cured in a Second Patient, a Milestone in the Global AIDS Epidemic) the second patient to be cured of HIV by replacement of bone marrow from a CCR5-Δ32 donor notably reached 18 months without HIV therapy. This second patient follows the famous Berlin Patient, Timothy Ray Brown. Timothy Ray Brown has been HIV negative for about a decade after receiving nearly identical treatment.
The key to the function of these bone marrow transplants is the genetics of the donor from which they are received. Donors are CCR5-Δ32, meaning they have a non-functional copy of the CCR-5 gene. This gene produces the handle by which HIV enters the cell. Without this handle, HIV cannot enter cells efficiently and the immune system attacks HIV virions in the body normally like a flu or a cold virus.
The brave endeavors of the London and Berlin Patient undoubtedly will advance the next evolution in HIV care. AGT has utilized the concept of the CCR5-Δ32 to develop a cell therapy designed to cure HIV. Our phase 1 clinical trial is expected to commence later in 2019. With Success, the New York Times maybe writing an article about AGT’s data.
For now, heads down as we continue to advance our program.
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