Robert J. Hariri, MD, PhD, on the Unique Potential of Chimeric Therapy


The founder, chairman, and CEO of Celularity shared his view on the concept of “chimeric vigor” and the potential benefits arising from it in the cell therapy field.

“We know, just from our experience with the recent pandemic, there are elements of the population who will always have resistance to certain diseases at an advantage over other members of the population. Now that we have the genomic tools, data, bioinformatics, and artificial intelligence tools, we can interrogate libraries of donors, specifically looking for the traits, or the array of traits, which could, in microchimeric form, establish a biological advantage to an individual who wasn't necessarily born with those advantages... And so, our concept of therapeutic chimerism and chimeric vigor, I believe, is one of the great horizons for the world of cellular medicine and I'm excited about being a participant in that.”

CCR5, a protein expressed on the surface of white blood cells, is used as a docking site for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during infection. A small portion of the population in North America and Europe is known to be naturally resistant to HIV infection because they were born with a knockout mutation in the CCR5 gene. Clinical research has demonstrated that patients with HIV who receive a stem cell transplant from donors who are CCR5-negative can attain a state of HIV-resistance.

Robert J. Hariri, MD, PhD, the founder, chairman, and CEO ofCelularity, refers to the aforementioned discovery as an example of "chimeric vigor” and a proof-of-concept for the potential of chimeric therapy. In Hariri’s view, “chimeric vigor”, a concept analogous to the hybrid vigor observed in the natural world, is an emergent benefit of allogeneic cell therapies and a means of conferring advantageous traits, such as disease resistance, to patients who were not born with them.

In an interview with CGTLive™, Hariri explained his thoughts on this means of treating disease and the importance of exploring it further. He also noted that with this in mind, Celularity has put together a library of tens of thousands of donors for the purpose of more effectively selecting ideal donor cells for receiving patients.

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