Penn Researchers Use "Zinc Finger" Technology to Safely Build Up Army of Modified T Cells to Repel HIV
March 04, 2014
The first published report of any gene editing approach in humans, in which University of Pennsylvania researchers engineered the immune cells of 12 HIV positive patients to resist infection, was covered by CBS Evening News, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. The phase I study, led by Carl H. June, MD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Bruce L. Levine, PhD, associate professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, and Pablo Tebas, MD, professor of Medicine in the division of Infectious Diseases, appeared today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers used a zinc finger technology to induce the CCR5 mutation in patients’ T cells to lock out HIV—the modified cells persisted in all patients, they found, and reduced viral loads in some taken off treatment entirely. "Gene therapy had a lot of hype and the expectations were unrealistic; it still has no approved therapy,” June told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "But I think we're on the threshold. We now know it's possible to do genetic editing with exquisite precision at levels with therapeutic relevance." The study was also covered by CBS affiliates around the country, Reuters, Associated Press, CBS News.com, NBC News.com, and BBC News, among others.
Read the Department of Communications news release.