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Sangamo BioSciences Announces Nature Biotechnology Study Demonstrating the Use of Zinc Finger Nucleases to Generate HIV Resistant T Cells
Date:6/30/2008

rmanently modify the DNA sequence encoding CCR5, a co-receptor that enables HIV to enter and infect cells of the immune system. Individuals carrying a naturally occurring mutation of their CCR5 gene, a variant known as CCR5-delta32, have been shown to be resistant to HIV infection.

"The data described in this paper are an important demonstration of the potential therapeutic properties of our product," commented Dale Ando, M.D., Sangamo's vice president of therapeutic development and chief medical officer. "We have demonstrated that a single treatment with our CCR5-specific ZFNs generates a population of HIV-resistant human T-cells similar to the situation in individuals carrying the natural CCR5-delta32 mutation. ZFN-modification of these cells is permanent and makes them resistant to HIV. The modified cells preferentially survive and expand in an animal after HIV infection, providing a reservoir of healthy and uninfectable immune cells. Furthermore, we observed that animals given the ZFN-modified cells had increased numbers of CD4 cells and substantially lower levels of HIV in their blood compared to animals given non-modified cells demonstrating statistically significant protection from the virus. In an HIV-infected patient, such modified cells could be available as a protected reservoir within the immune system to fight both opportunistic infections and HIV itself."

Several major pharmaceutical companies have initiated programs to develop small molecule or monoclonal antibody approaches to block the binding of HIV to CCR5. However, a small molecule or antibody approach requires the constant presence of a sufficiently high concentration of these drugs or antibody to block therapeutically relevant numbers of the CCR5 protein, which is present in thousands of copies on the surface of each T-cell and other tissues in the body. One such drug has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration with a "black box" warning, the strongest for prescriptio
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SOURCE Sangamo BioSciences, Inc.
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