MENLO PARK, Calif. -- Geron Corporation (Nasdaq:GERN) and TA Therapeutics, Ltd., a joint venture between Geron Corporation and the Biotechnology Research Corporation of Hong Kong (BRC), announced today the presentation of studies demonstrating that their small molecule telomerase activator, TAT0002, enhances the anti-viral activity of CD8 T-cells from HIV/AIDS donors against infected CD4 cells from the same donors. TA Therapeutics is exploring multiple applications for telomerase activators in chronic degenerative and infectious diseases. The company's most advanced program is HIV/AIDS, and it has selected TAT0002 as the lead development candidate for this indication.
The new research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Immunologists in Boston by Steve Fauce, from the laboratory of Rita Effros, Ph.D., professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and a member of the AIDS Institute at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The studies are the product of a collaboration between Geron scientists, Dr. Effros and colleagues at UCLA.
As HIV disease progresses, certain immune cells called CD8 cytotoxic T-cells undergo accelerated replicative senescence (cellular aging) and lose their ability to proliferate and kill HIV-infected CD4 T-cells. Previously, Dr. Effros and colleagues demonstrated that introducing the telomerase gene into CD8 cells from HIV/AIDS donors increased: 1) their proliferative capacity, 2) their ability to produce IFN-gamma, and 3) their ability to inhibit virus production and kill HIV-infected T-cells. Dr. Effros' team also showed that Geron's small molecule telomerase activators had similar activity enhancing the ability of certain HIV-specific CD8 T-cells to inhibit virus production when co-cultured with an HLA-matched HIV-infected CD4 T-cell line.