Today we find news about two local companies with HIV drugs that are receiving some fresh attention.
Richmond-based Sangamo BioSciences Inc. has developed a cell therapy that is being billed as a "functional cure" for the virus, and will be presented as such at an upcoming AIDS conference. As the Biz Times reports, "the cell therapy, called SB-728, targets a patient’s own CCR5 gene by removing, essentially, the doorknob that HIV turns to gain access to infection-fighting white blood cells."
And Foster City-based Gilead Sciences has a once-a-day, $12,000-a-year HIV-prevention pill called Truvada, which is essentially a free pass for having unsafe sex, even though they wouldn't want to market it that way. Somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 prescriptions for the stuff are being written each week, up from last year when the drug was released, thanks to a study and a mention in Time Magazine. But according to Bloomberg, doctors are still wary to prescribe it because of its side effects (kidney damage among them), and the fact that its application in the real world is questionable. Says Martin Markowitz, an AIDS researcher, "People who can’t use a condom, are they likely to take a pill every day? And in the real world, who will pay?"
Related sidenote: the new AIDS-in-SF documentary We Were Here is showing at the Castro all this week.