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Gene Therapy Shows Promise Against HIV

Early clinical trial suggests it can help infected patients

TUESDAY, Nov. 7, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Gene-base therapy may be effective against HIV, U.S. researchers report.

An investigational gene-based immunotherapy called VRX496 suggests it can fight the virus, according to a phase I, open-label, non-randomized clinical trial conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

The trial evaluated the safety and tolerability of VRX496 -- a CD4 T cell treatment -- in five people with chronic HIV infection who had all failed to respond to at least two antiretroviral drug regimens.

In response to the treatment, the five patients experienced decreases in viral load and showed stable or increased CD4 T cell counts.

The findings were published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Gene therapy has long been discussed as an alternative treatment to HIV," study senior author Dr. Carl June said in a prepared statement. "The results from this phase I trial are encouraging -- particularly since these are late-stage patients -- and demonstrate that gene therapy has the potential to treat HIV and other serious human diseases."

The therapy is being developed by VIRxSYS Corporation of Gaithersburg, Md. Phase II trials to test the safety and tolerability of single and repeated doses of VRX496 are currently under way, and preliminary results should be available in 2007.

More information

Project Inform has more about HIV therapies.

SOURCE: VIRxSYS, news release, Nov. 6, 2006
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