Philadelphia FIGHT Participating in Major Clinical Trial to Find HIV Cure

Local HIV service organization Philadelphia FIGHT has announced that it will participate in “the largest randomized trial anywhere” to find a cure for HIV. The project — led by West Philly biomedical research institute Wistar — is funded by a four-year, $6.2-million-dollar grant from the National Institutes of Health. The goal? To lead a clinical trial that aims to “drain the viral reservoir” of the HIV-1 virus in patients with HIV/AIDS.”

Philly FIGHT is among multiple local clinics participating in the trial, so to find out what role it will play in the study, I reached out to FIGHT’s Chip Alfred. He told me that the group is tasked with enrolling subjects needed for the study — specifically ones who are currently on antiretroviral therapy. In the study, these subjects will be treated with “a form of interferon-alpha, a protein that stimulates the immune system.” This is a method that, according to a pilot trial performed by Wistar’s Lab Director Luis J. Montaner in 2013, was found to “reduce the persistent amount of HIV-1 residing in people with HIV/AIDS who are currently being treated with antiretroviral therapy.”

Philly FIGHT’s experiments will be led by a small team of research scientists at the organization’s Jonathan Lax Treatment Center, which will send blood samples to Wistar at the end of the trial. Stay tuned to G Philly for updates.