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To Dr. Cohen, re: TRAIL

May 20, 2002

Dear Dr. Cohen, I recently read somebody's query about TRAIL, and I'm not sure if you've gathered enough information about it. Just in case you haven't, and for everybody's benefit, I'm posting some of what I know about it. TRAIL (Tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis inducing ligand)has been shown recently to kill HIV-infected cells (a much needed arsenal against this blasted virus). The article came out recently in the J. of Virology: Induction of cell death in human immunodeficiency virus-infected macrophages and resting memory CD4 T cells by TRAIL/Apo2l. J Virol. 2001 Nov;75 (22):11128-36. I was very excited to read about this, and I've communicated with the lead author, Dr. Badley regarding this substance. Their next study will look to see if TRAIL can penetrate the sanctuary sites and kill off the HIV-infected cells in these areas. My research into TRAIL also revealed that Immunex and Genentech both share a patent on this drug. Immunex was recently bought by Amgen, and I'm really hoping that this will not in any way stall research on this promising drug. I hope everyone will keep an eye on this, and pray that this will be the magic bullet that we need to eliminate the viral reservoirs.


Response from Dr. Cohen

Thanks Gil. I have not heard too much about this agent - but post your note so that others can follow it along. Amgen has a very good track record in the field for developing drugs - so I would not expect their involvement to slow things down at all.

Of course be careful when calling early results a "magic bullet" - we have all seen way too many great initial ideas flame out over time... so while there is always hope for the next one, we also know that HIV and our immune systems have not been easy targets for manipulation... which explains why still after 15 years, we still do not have even one medication approved, at least here in the US, that successfully targets the immune system... despite looking.

But there's always the next one...

Your opinion
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