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NIH study shows why HIV drugs should be given earlier, Juno Therapeutics in $737M deal with Editas Medicine (Morning Read)

An NIH study has shown that giving HIV drugs when patients are initially diagnosed with the disease is more effective than waiting for the white blood cell counts to drop.


A multiyear, randomized clinical trial study of 4,685 patients with HIV in 35 countries found that early treatment — when patients are initially diagnosed — can cut in half the number of cases of AIDS, deaths and complications, such as kidney or liver disease, according to a statement from the National Institutes of Health. The Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatment study began in 2011. The findings contradict current practice, which is to provide treatment once white blood cells have dropped below a certain level. The findings show that HIV drugs treatment should be given when white blood cell counts are still high.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said in a statement:

“We now have clear-cut proof that it is of significantly greater health benefit to an HIV-infected person to start antiretroviral therapy sooner rather than later…Moreover, early therapy conveys a double benefit, not only improving the health of individuals but at the same time, by lowering their viral load, reducing the risk they will transmit HIV to others. These findings have global implications for the treatment of HIV.”

Seattle-based Juno Therapeutics partners with privately held Cambridge biotech Editas Medicine in a deal valued up to $737M. A portion of the money will go toward research over the next five years to develop three new treatments that combine Editas’ gene editing technique with Juno’s approach to fighting cancer using T-cells.


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The Morning Read provides a 24-hour wrap up of everything else healthcare’s innovators need to know about the business of medicine (and beyond). The author of The Read published it but all full-time MedCity News journalists contribute to its content.

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