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Gene Therapy Virxsys VRX-496

Feb 1, 2006

Dear Dr. Pierone: In one of your answers about new medications, you said that vaccines and gene theraphy will be, someday, a revolution in HIV treament. I found something about VRX-496. Virxsys says in an "executive summary" that they have completed phase I and they will be using this gene therapy in 2006 as salvage therapy. That means over 10.000 patients a year. Is this true? Here is a link about VRX-496. Thank you very much for your valuable time. John.

Response from Dr. Pierone

This company is engaged in gene therapy research directed against HIV. They have a candidate agent that is engineered to target CD4 cells and protect them against HIV. The have studied this in 5 humans and are enrolling phase II trials. This is an interesting approach and time will tell if it works or not. There are huge obstacles (and odds) for early experimental agents to overcome and this one is no exception.

If it does turn out to be effective in these small exploratory studies it will still be many years before larger numbers of patients will be treated. Gene therapy is one of the most promising areas of human biomedical research, but it is in its infancy and will take some time to come of age.

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