October 10, 2019
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RFTCA Purchases Cell-Based Technology to Develop Cure for HIV/AIDS

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The Research Foundation to Cure AIDS has purchased licensing rights to Chromovert, a cell-based biotechnology that detects and purifies rare cells.

RFTCA purchased the Chromovert technology from Chromocell Corp., a company that was formed in 2002 by researchers from Rockefeller University. RFTCA plans to use Chromovert to research, develop and commercialize a cure for HIV/AIDS.

The RFTCA hopes that the purchase will help it develop cell-based cures for HIV/AIDS in line with two patients who have been labeled as “cured” of HIV after receiving HIV-resistant stem cell transplants as a treatment for cancer. The first patient received the therapy in Berlin in 2007 and remains free of detectable disease, while the second patient was treated in London in 2019.

“The RFTCA was established with the vision that a cure for AIDS should be made available to all those in need around the world, regardless of ability to pay,” Kambiz Shekdar, PhD, president and founder of RFTCA, told Cell Therapy Next.

Shekdar, who is co-founder and a member of the board of directors for Chromocell, said the RFTCA obtained the license to Chromovert to pursue a pro bono cure for AIDS.

“RFTCA plans to establish a ‘Manhattan Project’ to cure AIDS, bringing in additional teams, technologies and stakeholders as needed to reach this goal,” he said.

The RFTCA said it hopes to develop a method to create autologous HIV-resistant stem cells rather than having to obtain rare HIV-resistant cells from donors. The non-profit purchased the Chromocell technology for $1.00, which allowed it to become what it believes is the first charitable biotechnology venture to seek a cure for HIV/AIDS.

Shekdar told Cell Therapy Next that the RFTCA has already conducted initial proof-of-concept studies, and that acquiring the Chromovert technology will be a gateway to more seed funding to support his team’s core research.

“In a variety of diverse research applications, Chromovert has enabled the detection, isolation and purification of highly desired cells that had previously remained out-of-reach using any other cell engineering method,” Shekdar said. “In the context of developing a cell therapy cure for AIDS, Chromovert will be used to enable the purification of enriched populations of cells optimally engineered to comprise natural biological resistance to HIV/AIDS and devoid of off-target genetic modifications.” – by Drew Amorosi