Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Real Hope for Eradication of HIV

by Pragmatus (Daily Kos)

New Procedure Expands on Sole Cured Patient’s Experience.
Building upon the success of the first-ever cure of someone with HIV/AIDS, a new treatment has been developed that modifies the genetic makeup of the human T-cell to prevent HIV from inserting itself into the cell’s DNA and thus perpetuating the infection.  Developed by Sangamo BioSciences, the treatment, a “zinc-finger” process code-named SB-728, modifies T-cells of persons with HIV/AIDS so that they can no longer be infected by the virus.  Clinical trials, currently in phase II (to determine efficacy), show dramatic results, including some beyond what was originally expected.
READ: Did science really cure the first case of HIV
Several years ago the so-called “Berlin Patient”, later identified as HIV infected Californian Timothy Ray Brown, was given an immune system transplant after contracting leukemia, and the donor’s DNA contained the mutation which prevents T-cells from expressing a surface protein called CCR5 that is essential to HIV for infecting the cells.  Initially doctors expected that Brown’s new T-cells would only decrease the amount of HIV in his blood stream, but were astonished to discover that they also sought out and destroyed HIV infected cells elsewhere in his body.  Today Brown, despite taking no anti-HIV medication for five years, remains apparently entirely free of the disease.
READ: Did science really cure the first case of HIV

Sangamo BioScience’s approach, in concert with University of Pennsylvania researchers Carl June and Bruce Levine, was to develop a physical method of altering the DNA of T-cells so that they could no longer express the CCR5 surface protein that allows HIV to enter and infect them.  They employed a sort of chemical scissors known as zinc fingers which can target DNA and cut out or disrupt any individual gene or sequence.  Once T-cells from an HIV/AIDS patient have been modified to destroy the gene that allows the expression of the CCR5 surface protein, they are multiplied en masse in vitro and then re-injected into the patient.
READ: Did science really cure the first case of HIV

After phase I trials showed no apparent toxicity or adverse effects associated with patients infused with SB-728, phase II trials were begun that enrolled only HIV-infected persons who had never been on any HAART (highly active anti-retroviral treatment) therapy.  HAART includes the famous multi-drug “cocktails” that have allowed persons infected with HIV to control the infection to the extent that it is no longer lethal, dramatically reducing the number of HIV/AIDS deaths in the developed world over the past fifteen years or so.  These trials were subsequently expanded on compassionate-criteria grounds, enrolling subjects in whom HAART was failing and for whom this treatment might be a last resort.
READ: Did science really cure the first case of HIV

Of course, the MSM (mainstream media), who for thirty years jumped on and stupidly trumpeted every obviously false hope and blind alley in the treatment of this disease, is too preoccupied at the moment with the GOP nomination foodfight and Lindsay Lohan to notice this extraordinary development.  By summer this should be astonishing the entire world, but first the word needs to get out.
In addition to the March 2012 Scientific American article "Blocking HIV's Attack" the interested reader can explore the following...
“Establishment of HIV-1 Resistance in CD4+ Cells by Genome Editing Using Zinc Finger Nucleases”, Elena Perez et al in Nature Biotechnology, Vol. 26, pp 808-16, 2008
“Chemokine Receptor 5 Knockout Strategies”, Paula Cannon and Carl June in Current Opinoins in HIV and AIDS, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp 74-79 January 2011
“The Man Who Had HIV and Now Does Not”, Tina Rosenberg, New York Magazine, May 29, 2011
Link to Sangamo’s product pipeline page with information regarding SB-728 trials:

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