Researchers Develop Technique That Prevents HIV From Reproducing, Philadelphia Inquirer Reports
February 11, 2008
Researchers from the biotechnology company Virxsys and the University of Pennsylvania have developed a gene therapy technique that prevents HIV from reproducing, according to a study presented Wednesday at the 15th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
The technique "raises hope" within the HIV vaccine research community that if a preventive vaccine is not developed, the technique could be used to control HIV among people already living with the virus, the Inquirer reports. Gary McGarrity, executive vice president for scientific affairs at Virxsys, said the "buzzword" in gene therapy research is "viral 'fitness'" and that VRX496 "diminishe[s] HIV fitness up to two years after treatment."
The possibility of the technique becoming an FDA-approved treatment is several years away, but Virxsys CEO Riku Rautsola estimated the potential cost for a one-time series of infusions would be $130,000, compared with the roughly $700,000 cost for lifetime treatment with antiretroviral drugs. Rautsola said the company hopes the treatment will become a "frontline therapy," adding that it "would clearly be better in terms of quality of life" for people living with HIV/AIDS (McCullough, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/7).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.