Back HIV Treatment Search for a Cure CROI 2015: The Quest for a Cure for HIV [VIDEO]

CROI 2015: The Quest for a Cure for HIV [VIDEO]

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Research towards a cure for HIV continues, despite some recent setbacks. Several investigators presented their work in a session on HIV persistence, latency reversal, and viremia rebound at the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections(CROI) this week in Seattle. There is still enthusiasm in the HIV cure field, said John Mellors of the University of Pittsburgh, but progress will be slow.

[HIV Cure Press Conference, CROI, February 25, 2015]

Some of the researchers described their work to the media at a CROI press conference following their presentations:

  • Francesco Simonetti on residual viremia from clonally expanded CD4 cells;
  • James Whitney on using a TLR7 agonist to release latent HIV from hiding;
  • Jonathan Li on how HIV reservoir size predicts timing of viral rebound after stopping antiretroviral therapy (ART);
  • John Frater on biomarkers that predicted HIV rebound in the SPARTAC study.

Mellors offered brief comments on each presentation, noting how it helps move the HIV cure field forward.

"We've learned that HIV-infected cells can persist even on ART," he said. "We're not just dealing with cells that remains quiet, they can expand and proliferate, making [eradication] more challenging that we thought."

Whitney's team's TLR7 agonist (Gilead Science's GS-9620) appears well-tolerated and promising in monkey studies and is entering human clinical trials for people with HIV this month.

Frater's research is part of the search for biomarkers that can indicate whether interventions are reducing the latent HIV reservoir in the body, without subjecting patients to the risks of ART interruption.

"The cure field started with enthusiasm and enthusiasm is still there, but progress will be slow," said Mellors. "It will wind out over years or decades before we have functional cure applicable to many people with HIV. We're all thirsty and hungry for interventions now that might get us closer to a cure."

2/26/15

References

FR Simonetti, MD Sobolowski, S Hill, et al. Residual Viremia Caused by Clonally Expanded Tumor-Infiltrating CD4+ Cells. 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Seattle, February 23-24, 2015. Abstract 105.

JB Whitney, S-Y Lim, CE Osuna, et al. Treatment With a TLR7 Agonist Induces Transient Viremia in SIV-Infected ART-Suppressed Monkeys
. 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Seattle, February 23-24, 2015. Abstract 108.

B Etemad, H Ahmed, E Aga, J Li, et al. The Size of the Active HIV Reservoir Predicts Timing of Viral Rebound
. 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Seattle, February 23-24, 2015. Abstract 110LB.

J Hurts, J Williams, JP Thornhill, J Frater, et al. Biomarkers to Predict Viral Rebound at Antiretroviral Therapy Interruption in SPARTAC. 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. Seattle, February 23-24, 2015. Abstract 111LB.