Hear about the experiences of Matt Chappell and Matt Sharp, two HIV activists who took part in early gene therapy trials to cure or control HIV, and the scientist who led that research, Carl June, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21 at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 4, Washington Mutual Foundation Meeting Room 1, 206-386-4636.

"Medical Angels" is a community forum about gene therapy and its potential to cure HIV, led by people living with the virus. Chappell, Sharp and June will talk about the gene-editing experiments they participated in to cure or control HIV, and will answer audience questions about their unique results.

The defeatHIV's Community Advisory Board (CAB) recently conducted focus groups on local people living with HIV. The group learned that a majority of people expressed reluctance to take part in gene-editing research, yet they wanted to talk to individuals who had undergone cell & gene therapy and hear about their experiences directly. This community discussion is a direct result of the defeatHIV CAB's community listening.

Presenter bios

Matt Chappell and Matt Sharp were part of a trial to have their immune cells edited to make them resistant to HIV.

In 2014, scientists removed some of Chappell's blood cells, disabled a gene to help them resist HIV, and returned these edited cells to him. While this procedure did not cure Chappell, it did allow his body to suppress the virus without medications.

Sharp, a veteran of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, was diagnosed with HIV in 1988. While taking HIV medicines, Sharp never saw his T cell count rise, despite fully suppressing the virus in his blood. But after a single infusion of his own edited cells during the trial, Sharp saw his count jump to normal, healthy levels. Gene therapy brought long-term improvements to his immune-system health. Sharp thinks participation in the study was worth it, but he still takes daily pills to keep the virus under control.

The researcher involved with this work towards a cure, Carl June, MD, is a cancer and HIV gene therapy pioneer. His work led to the development and commercialization of tisagenlecleucel, the first FDA-approved gene therapy. TIME named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in 2018. June is currently the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.

About defeatHIV

This event is presented in partnership with the defeatHIV CAB. The defeatHIV CAB's mission is to mobilize HIV cure researchers, their institutions and our communities to work together to cure HIV, ensuring that input from people living with HIV is accounted for in defeatHIV's cure-related research. The group uses their research findings to educate people about cell and gene therapy approaches to cure HIV.

defeatHIV, the Delaney Cell and Genome Engineering Initiative, is a consortium of committed investigators found in both academic and private sector research institutions, working together for a common purpose—to eradicate HIV. As a part of Fred Hutch, defeatHIV is an NIH-funded Martin Delaney Collaboratory working at the forefront of cell and gene therapy research to develop curative therapies for HIV.

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Library events and programs are free and everyone is welcome. Registration is not required. The Library's dynamic approach to building community that enriches lives includes programming that brings people, information and ideas together to respect and embrace the well-being of the people we serve.