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HIV "cure" volunteers required
Feb 2, 2011

Lalezari, medical director at Quest Clinical Research and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, and his team are exploring a less invasive approach. Rather than undergo a costly and painful bone marrow transplant, volunteers will have their blood filtered to extract immune cells. Those cells will then be treated with a zinc finger nuclease that will remove the gene that produces the CCR5 protein. Following cultivation for about three months, a large dose of treated immune cells will be re-infused in the originating patient in the hope they "take root" and replace vulnerable cells.

The treatment is expected to be painless and carry a relatively low risk of side effects. By contrast, the patient in the German study received chemotherapy and immunosuppressive drugs to prevent transplant rejection.

Doctor Ben. what is your view on this article? What are the chances of this initiative working?

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for your interesting post.

Stem cell and gene therapy research has been given a lot of stimulus in recent months, particularly after the release of additional information from the "Berlin patient" whose HIV seems to be "cured" following bone marrow transplantation.

The Quest research hopes to extend these prior observations, but like any investigational approach, should be viewed as research with no guarantee of success, but the hope that the information learned will help shape future discovery and treatments. Many prior gene therapy studies have failed to yield a direct treatment approach, but that should not deter participation (by appropriate and eligible persons) or the hope of success.

I hope that helps, BY



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