Aids Research Continuing

Aids Research Continuing
28 November 2014 / Générale, Technologies Médicales, Biotechnologie
Southern France’s Laboratories Providing Leads

Monday December 1 is World Aids Day. Although the number of people living with the HIV virus is continuing to rise (UNAIDS Report 2013), the fight continues unabated in the research laboratories. Among the hundreds of clinical trials carried out over the past 30 years, a therapeutic vaccine is currently being tested in Marseille.

The research work in this case is the most advanced underway in the world, being the only work to have reached the “phase II” set out in international standards. Undertaken by Biosantech, a company based in Sophia-Antipolis and working from patents registered by the Marseille doctor and CNRS researcher Erwann Loret, the research is aimed at confirming the vaccine’s non-toxicity and quantifying the optimum medical dosage. Working alongside AMU, the CNRS and the Marseille Public Hospitals Authority (APHM), the results of the trials on 48 patients will be known early in 2015.

Prof. Didier Raoult, professor at the Marseille Faculty of Medicine, specialist in microbiology and founder of Marseille’s Mediterranean Infection Foundation, for his part recently published a study on a rare natural defense mechanism against AIDS, in collaboration with the team of Prof. Yves Lévy in Créteil (INSERM). Possibly linked to the action of the Apobec enzyme, and the result of a DNA mutation further to the virus’s assimilation, the recently-observed phenomenon opens up new avenues for research into a cure.

Both fundamental and applied research require considerable funds. If Biosantech acquired the exclusive rights to Erwann Loret’s patents in 2012 as part of a technology transfer operation, the company raised the required funds from private investors in June 2014 to be able to move forward into “phase III” of the vaccine. A total of €803,000 was raised in a remarkable crowd-funding campaign that drew in 107 investors, including Jean-Claude Chermann, co-discoverer of the HIV virus and president of the International Institute for Development and Support of Innovative Scientific Research (IIDSRSI), which is backing the project.