Actualité - Innovation

HIV: A key to functional healing

Céline Giustranti
ABX464, a molecule derived from the Institut Curie chemical library, developed by the biotechnology company Abivax, in collaboration with the CNRS and the University of Montpellier, has confirmed its therapeutic potential against HIV. It is the first drug candidate that demonstrates in a Phase 2a clinical trial a reduction in HIV reservoirs in chronic HIV patients, a key step towards a complete HIV cure

It all started in 2002 for the molecule ABX464 in the chemistry library of the Institut Curie. This "bank" of chemical molecules that contains more than 10,000 substances allows testing high-throughput drug candidates. It is one of the largest in France.

"That year, said Florence Mahuteau-Betzer, head of the chemical library, a researcher from the University of Montpellier has screened all the components of the library in search of interesting molecules against HIV "Success was there since the future ABX464 has been able to be identified. "A company - which will become Abivax - has been created and collaboration between Institut Curie and this company has started," the chemist continued. Two people were recruited by Abivax and hosted in Orsay in my team associated with CNRS and University Paris-Sud. They "made" the molecule in 2009 which is now the object of the promising clinical trial. "Today the two researchers are working not only on this project, but also on the identification of new molecules mainly to fight chikunkugna.


ABX464, a molecule that attacks HIV reservoirs

"If we share the joint ownership of the patent with Abivax, CNRS and University of Montpelier, it is Abivax which ensures its exploitation," explains Bernardin Akagah, Business Manager for Chemistry at the Technology Transfer & Industrial Partnerships Office at the 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 study whose preliminary results show that the ABX464 molecule has the potential to become a key element Functional cure for HIV.

This is the first time we have seen a signal from a drug candidate showing that it would be possible to reduce HIV reservoirs in patients, says Professor Linos Vandekerckhove, director of HIV Cure in Abivax Center within the Department of General Internal Medicine at the University of Ghent in Belgium and principal investigator of the study.

ABX464, the drug candidate has indeed demonstrated the first reduction in HIV reservoirs ever observed in HIV-infected patients, measured by the amount of viral DNA detected in mononuclear peripheral blood cells. Because it is in these famous reservoirs of HIV that the virus hides to escape antiretrovirals. So even if it is too soon to talk about eradication, it is already a first step towards a functional cure.

A major advance to which the Institut Curie is associated since the patent of the small molecule ABX464 is partly derived from its laboratories.

This is a perfect illustration of the technology transfer dynamics at the Institut Curie and the strength of the Carnot "Curie Cancer" label, a program that aims to develop research between public laboratories and private companies, that Institut Curie has benefited since 2005 adds Amaury Martin, Director of the Technology Transfer & Industrial Partnerships Office at the 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 started to study the effect of ABX464 on the reservoirs of HIV in the tissues of the intestine.