Combining various treatment approaches is seen as a viable, more powerful means to achieve HIV cure states.
From the time that HIV-related illness and death was first realized in the 1980s until now, efforts to fully understand HIV infection and pathogenesis have been ongoing along with massive research efforts to discover a cure or means to control the spread of the virus. The newest antiviral therapies have made an extraordinary impact on the control of disease progression; however, these do not cure HIV infection and the viral activity returns shortly after antiviral dosing stops. Approaches to achieve HIV immunity are heavily studied, including developing means to provide HIV immunity in T cells and conferring HIV-resistance via gene editing. However, combining various approaches is seen as a viable, more powerful means to achieve HIV control or even a cure.
The biotechnology company American Gene Technologies International (AGT) has developed a process to produce a genetically modified autologous T-cell product that the company believes represents a functional cure for HIV. The process involves the modification of a patients’ own (autologous) T cells that are re-introduced into the patient. AGT’s goal is to develop a cell therapy approach that eliminates the virus and removes the need for lifelong antiretroviral therapy.
The process begins with the collection of enriched leukapheresis products, leukopaks, from normal peripheral blood and study participants who are HIV positive. Leukopaks are enriched leukapheresis products collected from peripheral blood and contain a diversity of blood cell types, including lymphocytes, erythrocyte, platelets, and monocytes. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from the leukopak are purified, T cells are then stimulated with HIV Gag-related synthetic peptides, and the cells are transduced with a lentivirus vector. The transduced cells are then expanded and harvested. Now that this process is well developed, a clinical trial with 18 patients is underway.
According to AGT, the process significantly increased the percentage of HIV-specific CD4 T cells from only 0.027% to 6.5%. The modified T cells are not only HIV specific, but are also HIV resistant, protecting the cells from HIV infection. The hope is that AGT’s new strategy will fill in the gap left with antiretroviral drug approaches and represent a cure for HIV infection.
Check out HemaCare’s cells and tissues to find products that support your research needs, including its large inventory of leukapheresis-derived purified PBMCs from HIV positive donors.
Making an HIV cure: AGT completes process development for T-cell therapy. (2018). biopharma-reporter.com. Retrieved 21 September 2018, from https://www.biopharma-reporter.com/Article/2018/02/06/Making-an-HIV-cure-AGT-completes-T-cell-therapy-pilot-runs