February 27, 2024

Empowered Patient: The Potential of a Functional Cure for HIV with Dr. Marc Conant of Addimmune


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Empowered Patient Podcast
Author: Karen Jagoda

Addimmune Summary

In an enlightening episode of the Empowered Patient Podcast, Dr. Marc Conant, Chief Medical Officer at Addimmune, delves into the innovative realm of HIV care, focusing on the development of a functional cure through gene and cell therapy. Addimmune is at the forefront of this revolutionary approach, aiming to modify patients’ cells to empower their immune systems to control HIV effectively. This method draws inspiration from the success of cell therapies in oncology, particularly CAR T cell technology, which has transformed fatal blood cancers into manageable conditions.

Dr. Conant explains the distinction between a sterilizing cure, which eradicates the disease-causing pathogen, and a functional cure, which enhances the body’s immune response to suppress the pathogen. He illustrates this with the example of the chicken pox virus, which can remain dormant in the body for decades, controlled by the immune system until it re-emerges as shingles when the immune response weakens.

Reflecting on the evolution of HIV treatment, Dr. Conant recounts the journey from the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when the disease was a death sentence, to the advent of antiretroviral therapy (ART) that has transformed HIV into a manageable chronic condition. Initially, patients had to adhere to complex medication schedules, but advancements in treatment have simplified this to a single daily pill that, if taken consistently, allows individuals with HIV to lead normal lives. Moreover, recent developments have introduced injectable treatments administered every two months, improving compliance and quality of life for patients.

Dr. Conant’s discussion underscores the significant progress made in HIV treatment and the promising horizon of a functional cure through cell modification. Addimmune’s pioneering work aims to eliminate the need for daily medication, offering hope for a future where HIV can be controlled more naturally by the body’s own immune system.