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Summit gives update on HIV cure research by Liz Highleyman
esearchers at the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research at UCSF presented an update on their latest work at the recent World AIDS Day summit. The institute, established in 2015 with a $20 million grant from amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, is a multidisciplinary effort that aims to understand HIV reservoirs, or hiding places within the body, and ultimately control or eliminate the virus. It will soon move into a new home on the UCSF Mission Bay campus. While complete eradication of HIV from the body seems like a distant prospect, a more feasible goal is a so-called functional cure. This would “allow an HIV-infected person to live a full life without having to take medicines, without having to worry about transmitting the virus, and without having to suffer any complications from HIV infection,” said Dr. Paul Volberding, director of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute. This is not a short-term effort, acknowledged amfAR CEO Kevin Frost. “But that’s the history of medicine – taking things that are dangerous, complicated, and expensive and making them safer, simpler, and cheaper,” he said.
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stopped, the latent virus methods to detect it, said almost always resumes UCSF associate professor replicating and attacking Satish Pillai, who is workT-cells. Even during treating on new tools includment, inactive HIV can ing radioactive labeling cause inflammation that that lights up HIV-infectcontributes to conditions ed cells. “We have a lot of such as cardiovascular very expensive technolodisease and cancer. gies that all do slightly Liz Highleyman Researchers have tried different things and tell various approaches to Dr. Paul Volberding different stories, but we curing HIV, including don’t really know if any very early antiretroviral of these are telling us the therapy, gene therapy or stem cell absolute truth,” Pillai said. transplants that protect T-cells Understanding the viral from infection, the “shock and kill” Hybrid/City Kid’s reservoir strategy that aims to flush the virus Road Kid’s 2016 WINNER Much of the cure institute’s reout of hiding and destroy it, and search involves figuring out ways to strengthening natural immune re2016 WINNER more accurately measure the viral sponses against the virus. 2016 WINNER reservoir, determine whether residBut these efforts have generally ual virus is “replication-competent,” not led to long-term control of the Every Thursday in April between 4 & 7pm or able to reproduce and infect new virus. Only one person – former cells, and whether experimental San Francisco resident Timothy Ray take 20% OFF all parts, accessories & clothing.* therapies are having an effect on the Brown, known as the Berlin Patient Road Mountain reservoir. – appears to have been truly cured, Mountain Hybrid/City *Sales limited to stock on A new wrinkle in cure research, with no detectable HIV in his body Now Open Thursday to 7pm! according to Pillai, is the growing nine years after receiving bone marN.Y.’s understanding that even defective row transplants from a donor with a N.Y.’s Resolution: Resolution: latent HIV that is not able to pronatural mutation that makes T-cells Every Thursday in April between 4 & 7pm duce infectious new viruses may resistant to infection. NowOFF Open Thursday to &7pm! take 20% all parts, accessories clothing.* still spit out viral proteins that can Two other HIV-positive bone *Sales limited to stock on hand. trigger an inflammatory immune marrow transplant patients in BosEvery Thursday in April between 4 & 7pm response. ton, who received normal, nontake 20% OFF all parts, accessories & clothing.* Only about 1 to 2 percent of CD4 mutated stem cells, managed to T-cells are circulating in the blood hold off viral rebound for a while *Sales limited to stock on hand. at any given time, while the majorafter stopping antiretrovirals – eight ity live in tissues of the body such as months in one case – but eventually the gut and lymph nodes, explained the virus returned. UCSF associate professor Dr. Peter Extensive studies of these patients Hunt. Cells in tissues may be differsuggest that having even a single re1065 Valencia Btwn 21st 21st 22nd St. •) •SFSF 1065 &1077 1077 Valencia(((Btwn 22nd St.) •) SF 1065 & &1077 Valencia Btwn 21st&&& 22nd St. ent from those in the blood and may maining latently infected cell in the ( SALES 415-550-6600 • REPAIRS 415-550-6601 1065SALES &SALES 1077 Valencia Btwn 21st & 22nd St. ) • SF 415-550-6600 415-550-6601 415-550-6600 •• REPAIRS REPAIRS 415-550-6601 respond differently to experimental reservoir may be enough to rekindle Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5 SALES 415-550-6600 • REPAIRS 415-550-6601 Mon.Sat. 10-6, Thu. 10-7,NY Sun. 11-5 therapies, which may not be able to Mon-Sat HIV replication and all its detri4PM Eve and all day NY Day 10-6, Sun 11-5 • Closed reach the sequestered specialized T- Mon-Sat 10-6, Sun 11-5 • Closed 4PM NY Eve and all day NY Day mental consequences. 9.75 in. showed us cells that are most likely to harbor The Boston patients 1065 & 1077 Valencia (Btwn 21st & 22nd St.) • SF HIV. that “the virus was lurking all along” SALES 415-550-6600 • REPAIRS 415-550-6601 but we didn’t have sensitive enough See page 15 >>
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The challenge of a cure
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ountain Combination antiretroviral therapy, which debuted in the mid1990s, has made HIV a chronic manageable disease for most people with access to treatment, often using a single once-daily pill. But current treatments are not a cure. HIV’s genetic material remains hidden in inactive immune cells. If antiretroviral drugs are
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