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Could This Work?

Aug 27, 2001

I know I am most likely over optimistic but maybe you could tell me what you think? What would happen if we were able to reconstitute the full immune struture of a person who has HIV/AIDS? I mean for example if a person who has HIV/AIDS were to be treated for the virus and if the virus were driven town to below 50(undectable) and were to reconstitute the immune system fully(to where it would be if they were not HIV+) I am thinking that Stem Cells could provide the answer to being accomplish this task. Further perhaps the new cells created could be altered as to render them able to resist HIV? I was wondering what you thought of this approch and if any stem cell research was ongoing in the feild of HIV/AIDS or if anyone in the field had and intrest in such resarch?

Response from Dr. Pavia

There is a lot of interest in genetically engineering cells to make them resistant to HIV infection. Work has been done with bone marrow stem cells already, and more is ongoing. The fetal stem cells that have been in the news lately are another possibility, but to my knowledge, have not been tried. Remember though, that stem cell research is in its infancy (ouch), and genetic therapy at this point looks extraordinarily expensive. All that may change.

The problem with immune reconstition for now, in a nutshell, is that it does not usually reconstitute immunity to HIV itself. More importantly, as long as HIV is still there, there is a chance it will start whittling away at the immune system when one stops antiretrovirals. This is one of the key problems researchers want to attack with therapeutic vaccines.

Keep watching. Science keeps creeping forward. "Breakthroughs" play well in the news, but it is day by day, piece by piece work that often makes the progress.


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