HIV: A key to functional cure
It all started in 2002 for the molecule ABX464 in the chemical library of Institut Curie. This "bank" of chemical molecules that contains more than 10,000 substances allows to test high-throughput drug candidates. It is one of the largest in France.
That year, Florence Mahuteau-Betzer, Head of this chemical molecule bank, recall that a researcher from Montpellier screened all the compounds of the chemical library in search of interesting molecules against HIV. Success was met, as the future ABX464 could be identified. "A company - which will become Abivax - has been created and a collaboration between the Institut Curie and this company has begun," says the chemist. “Two people were recruited by Abivax and hosted in Orsay in my team associated with the CNRS and the University Paris-Sud. It is they who "made" the molecule in 2009 which is now the object of the promising clinical trial. "
It is a beautiful illustration of the dynamics of technology transfer at Institut Curie and the strength of the prestigious label Carnot Curie Cancer.
Today, both researchers are working not only on this project, but also on the identification of new molecules mainly to fight against chikunkugna.
ABX464, A molecule that attacks HIV reservoirs
"If we share the joint ownership of the patent with Abivax, the CNRS and the University of Montpelier, it is Abivax which ensures the exploitation", explains Bernardin Akagah, business manager for chemistry at the Technology transfer and Industrial partnerships Office, Institut curie.
Recently, Abivax, a biotechnology company focused on the immune system to eliminate viral diseases, has announced the end of a Phase 2 clinical trial. Preliminary results show that the ABX464 molecule has the potential to become a key element for functional cure of HIV.
« This is the first time we have seen a signal from a drug candidate demonstrating that it would be possible to reduce HIV reservoirs in patients », said Pr Linos Vandekerckhove, director of the HIV Cure Center in the Department of General Internal Medicine at the University of Ghent in Belgium and principal investigator of the study, in a press release.
ABX464, the drug candidate has indeed demonstrated the first reduction in HIV reservoirs ever observed in chronic HIV patients, measured by the amount of viral DNA detected in mononuclear peripheral blood cells. Because it is in these infamous reservoirs of HIV that the virus hides to escape the antiretroviral treatments. So even if it is too early to talk about eradication, it is already a first step towards a functional cure.
A major advance to which Institut Curie is associated since the patent of the small molecule ABX464 is partly derived from its laboratories.
"It is a good illustration of the dynamics of technology transfer at Institut Curie and the strength of the Carnot "Curie Cancer" labeling, a program that aims to develop research between public laboratories and private industry. Institut Curie has benefited from this prestigious label since 2005”, adds Amaury Martin, director of Technology transfer and industrial partnerships Office at Institut Curie.
Abivax has already indicated its intention to continue the development of ABX464 for the benefit of HIV-infected patients. In fact, a new clinical study has recently begun to study the effect of ABX464 on the HIV-reservoirs in the intestine.
News submitted by Céline Giustranti,
Responsable de la communication externe, direction de la communication