Fighting HIV with HIV?
Nov 11, 2006
Is this true?
For the lazy bums:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An AIDS virus genetically engineered to fight other AIDS viruses worked better than expected, suppressing the virus and renewing the immune systems of a few patients, researchers reported on Monday.
The study involved just five people, and such an approach needs years more study, they cautioned -- but the surprising results offer new hope both for the field of gene therapy and for treating the fatal and incurable AIDS virus.
Response from Dr. Frascino
Yes, this very intriguing paper was published in a well respected peer-reviewed medical journal this week (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). It was a "safety and feasibility" study, not an efficacy study, and consequently involved only five patients. It involved a gene therapy procedure called "antisense," which involves genetically altering HIV to make it unharmful ("nonpathogenic"). CD4 cells were removed from the five test subjects. Those cells were then infected with the genetically altered virus and reinfused back into the patients. Four of the five test subjects showed some degree of immune restoration. It is important to note this is a very preliminary report and even if it does work, it will take a number of years to develop and will require monitoring the patients for short- and long-term complications. Is antisense gene therapy anywhere near ready for prime time? Nope! Is it cause for optimism? Absofrickinlutely! Stay tuned to The Body. We'll keep you updated as this potential new therapy evolves.
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