The Search for the HIV Cure: University of Cincinnati and the Contribution of John Causey in Regenerative-based Treatment

Aug 29, 2019 | AIDS, HIV, Regenerative Medicine, Zinc-Finger Nucleases

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John Causey of the Cincinnati area has been HIV positive for 28 years. He wants to give back and help contribute to a cure hence he is one of about ten Tristate participants in the TRAILBLAZER, a groundbreaking study that potentially could find a cure for HIV.

Thanks to the last generation of HIV medication Mr. Causey is still alive today. After all, Lisa Smith reporting for WCPO reported that back then when Mr. Causey first fell to the virus it was a death sentence. Now WCPO reports that thanks to the existing medication he is still here and now he wants to participate in the study to do a favor for someone else—” Find a way to reduce their suffering and make living less of a challenge” reports Ms. Smith.

The Study

The TRAILBLAZER study, sponsored by Case Western Reserve University and their collaborator the University of Cincinnati is a comparative study of autologous CD4+ T cells genetically modified at the CCR5 gene by zinc-finger nucleases SB-728 ex vivo expanded unmodified autologous CD4+ T cells in treated HIV-1 infected participants.

A randomized, parallel-assignment, double-blinded study will include up to 30 participants and will run from 2019 till February 2024.

The Treatment

Ms. Smith from WCPO reports that the CCR5 gene receptor is what allows people to actually receive HIV. In this Midwestern study, the investigators will exploit specialized gene-editing technology known as zinc-finger nucleases to cut that receptor out of a small number of white blood cells from study participants. In the study, each patient will get their own genetically edited white blood cells injected back into their bodies. Once this procedure is complete the goal is that the cells are expected to naturally regenerate.

Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland is leading the study while supported by the University of Cincinnati—the University of California-San Francisco is also participating.

Lead Research/Investigator

Carl Fichtenbaum, principal investigator and professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Cheryl Smith, Principal Investigator, Case Western Reserve University

Benigno Rodriguez, MD, Case Western Reserve University

Call to Action: Do you or a loved one have HIV in the TriState area? Perhaps this is a study to at least learn more about. We offer links to the principal investigators—the TrialSite Network can match you with the appropriate resource within either Case Western Reserve University or the University of Cincinnati. Interested in partnering with these academic medical centers? TrialSite can help you accelerate that process.