Can gene therapy be used to cure HIV?
Dr. Joshi’s proposed research is part of a series of projects with the goal of using a patient’s own stem cells for a one-time gene therapy to treat HIV patients. Funded by Manulife.
The problem with traditional medication is that although it suppresses HIV replication, it requires life-long adherence to treatment plans that ultimately cannot eliminate HIV reservoirs completely. The benefit of using a patient’s stem cells is that it will allow patients to produce their own antivirals for life. Dr. Joshi’s lab is the first to develop this type treatment using bi-functional antiviral proteins. These proteins are produced in the cell and interfere with HIV replication, ultimately leading to a functional cure. This experiment will test if two specific proteins can control HIV infection in humanized mice models and whether they can overcome any resistance that arises from HIV. If testing is successful, the implications of this experiment is that it may lead to a translatable clinically functional cure.