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May 2015

Examples of media coverage:

  1. Gilead Sciences (GILD) May Have Found A Cure For HIV! – CNA Finance, May 18, 2015
  2. This Experimental Drug Could Finally Cure HIV – Motley Fool, May 18, 2015‎

Original source:
Unknown, possibly a Gilead Sciences presentation to investors, although it is highly unlikely the company claimed that the drug may cure HIV.

TAG’s commentary:
For reasons that are unclear, two websites that cover financial news have published wildly erroneous stories suggesting the company Gilead Sciences may have discovered a cure for HIV.

The drug in question is named GS-9620, and it has shown some promise in a small study involving monkeys infected with SIV (HIV’s simian equivalent). Administration of GS-9620 to macaques on antiretroviral therapy (ART) appeared to slightly reduce levels of the latent SIV reservoir, but it did not lead to a cure. When ART was interrupted, viral load rebounded in all animals, and there was no evidence that the viral load rebound was slower or delayed in macaques that received GS-9620. However, when viral load stabilized (described as the viral load “set point”), levels were somewhat lower in GS-9620 recipients.

These data were presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) earlier this year, and a webcast of the presentation is available online. Many news outlets and community-based organizations (including TAG) covered the presentation at the time (e.g. see article from AIDSMap).

Evidence suggests GS-9620 may have a dual mechanism of action, both inducing production of virus by latently infected CD4 T cells and enhancing immune responses (such as natural killer cells), that could potentially contribute to clearing the infected CD4 T cells. GS-9620 interacts with toll-like receptor 7, an immune cell receptor involved in the recognition of pathogens, and has been studied in people with hepatitis B and reported to be safe.

An initial phase I trial in HIV-positive individuals is now underway and results should help shed light on whether GS-9620 might be able to reduce the latent HIV reservoir and potentially contribute to achieving a cure. But yesterday’s headlines suggesting that GS-9620 might be a cure for HIV are completely incorrect and irresponsible.


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