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Infusion of CCR5 Gene-Edited T Cells Allows Immune Reconstitution, HIV Reservoir Decay, and Long-Term Virological Control

By Joumana Zeidan, Ashish A Sharma, Gary Lee, Angie Raad, Remi Fromentin, Slim Fourati, Khader Ghneim, Gabriela P. Sanchez, Clarisse Benne, Glenda Canderan, Francesco A. Procopio, Robert Balderas, Georges Monette, Jacob P. Lalezari, Jane M. Heffernan, Laurent Sabbagh, Nicolas Chomont, Dale Ando, Steven G Deeks, Rafick-Pierre Sekaly

Posted 01 Mar 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.28.433290

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) fails to fully restore immune function and is not curative. A single infusion of CCR5 gene-edited autologous CD4+ T cells (SB-728-T) led to sustained increases in CD4+ T cell counts, improved T cell homeostasis, and reduced the estimated size of the HIV reservoir. These outcomes were associated with the expansion and long-term persistence of a novel CCR5 gene-edited CD4+ T memory stem cell (CD45RAintROint TSCM) subset that can replenish the pool of more differentiated memory cells. We showed that novel CD45RAintROint TSCM cells are transcriptionally distinct from the previously described CD45RA+ TSCM and are minimally differentiated cells uncommitted to a specific Th-lineage. Subsequently, we showed in an independent trial that infusion of the SB-728-T cell product resulted in partial control of viral replication upon cessation of ART which was correlated with the frequencies of CCR5 gene-edited TSCM and their TEM progeny. Interestingly, one participant that remained off ART to this date demonstrated long-term maintenance of CCR5 gene-edited cells and increased frequency of polyfunctional HIV-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, contributing to low levels of viral load 5 years post-infusion. Consequently, the generation of HIV protected memory CD4+ T cells by CCR5 disruption can contribute toward novel interventions aimed at achieving a sustained ART-free viral remission of HIV disease.

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