Could a “Functional Cure” for HIV Be on the Horizon?

Written by | Wellness


A study explores whether T cells

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could one day be modified to achieve what is currently only possible with medication?

During the 2014 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, Dr. Gary Blick announced new research suggesting that a functional cure for HIV is one step closer to to becoming a reality. Dr. Blick is an American Academy of HIV Medicine specialist, who is also medical and research director of Circle Care Center and chief medical officer of World Health Clinicians.

Dr. Blick also works with Sangamo BioSciences, which recently led clinical trials in which HIV-infected subjects were injected with billions of modified T cells. The T cells were modified through a process known as “zinc finger nuclease editing.” In this case, the editing attempted to render the cells resistant to the HIV virus. The T cells were then delivered to the patients in the hope of reducing their viral loads.

The results of the study were published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The study’s 12 subjects were divided into two groups of six: One group received the modified T cells, and the other group remained on antiretroviral drug therapy. The results seem to indicate that an individual’s T cells — modified using zinc finger nuclease editing — can also safely result in decreased HIV viral load.

“Sangamo has been at the forefront of this breakthrough proprietary therapy, and I’m happy to be a part of it,” said Dr. Blick. “We’re reaching a new frontier in the search for a functional cure for HIV.” Learn about World Health Clinicians at worldhealthclinicians.org and Sangamo BioSciences at sangamo.com.

By Jennifer Schiavone

Last modified: June 22, 2017