Main | Tuesday, April 30, 2013

AIDS Group Slams Danish "Cure" Report

Treatment Action Group has a lot of problems with yesterday's story about a possible HIV cure presently under research in Denmark.
Sadly, it seems that one of the authors of the Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics review, Dr. Ole Søgaard, has rather shot himself in the foot by contributing to a wildly irresponsible article in the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph regarding his group's ongoing research. The article misstates the mechanism of action of HDAC inhibitors (stating that they "strip" HIV DNA from latently infected cells when, at best, they prompt the HIV DNA into transcribing proteins) and uncritically reports Dr. Søgaard's apparent confidence in the ability of panobinostat to reactivate latent HIV; as noted in the Nature Medicine news article linked to above, there are many outstanding questions regarding the ability of HDAC inhibitors to accomplish this task.

The Telegraph also mentions the use of immune-based therapies to prompt the killing of latently infected cells (assuming the cells are successfully induced to express HIV); my best guess is that, in the case of Dr. Søgaard's group, this is a reference to their data on the TLR9 agonist CPG 7909, although the article is unconscionably vague on this point. Also cited, again vaguely, are plans by Lucy Dorrell's research group in the UK to conduct a trial in which HDAC inhibition is combined with therapeutic vaccination.

This research is undoubtedly very important but for the article to suggest that it means that scientists are on the brink of an HIV cure is shockingly erroneous and misleading. The promise of these approaches can only be evaluated when the results of the studies become available. Since the trials combining HDAC inhibitors and immune-based therapies (whether TLR agonists or therapeutic vaccines) have yet to start it is extremely unlikely that the data will be available in "months" as the subhead of the article claims.
The full reaction is at the bottom of this post.

Labels: , , ,

comments powered by Disqus