Stem cell–derived CAR T cells traffic to HIV reservoirs in macaques

Isaac M. Barber-Axthelm, Valerie Barber-Axthelm, Kai Yin Sze, Anjie Zhen, Gajendra W. Suryawanshi, Irvin S.Y. Chen, Jerome A. Zack, Scott G. Kitchen, Hans-Peter Kiem, and Christopher W. Peterson
JCI Insight. 2021 Jan 11;6(1):e141502. doi: 10.1172/jci.insight.141502.

Abstract
Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT) with CCR5– donor cells is the only treatment known to cure HIV-1 in patients with underlying malignancy. This is likely due to a donor cell–mediated graft-versus-host effect targeting HIV reservoirs. Allo-HSCT would not be an acceptable therapy for most people living with HIV due to the transplant-related side effects. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) immunotherapies specifically traffic to malignant lymphoid tissues (lymphomas) and, in some settings, are able to replace allo-HSCT. Here, we quantified the engraftment of HSC-derived, virus-directed CAR T cells within HIV reservoirs in a macaque model of HIV infection, using potentially novel IHC assays. HSC-derived CAR cells trafficked to and displayed multilineage engraftment within tissue-associated viral reservoirs, persisting for nearly 2 years in lymphoid germinal centers, the brain, and the gastrointestinal tract. Our findings demonstrate that HSC-derived CAR+ cells reside long-term and proliferate in numerous tissues relevant for HIV infection and cancer.

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