Scientists Create HIV-Fighting Immune Cells in Lab Mice
July 4, 2010
This isn’t the first time gene therapy has provided the promise of a breakthrough in the battle against AIDS, but this study was unique for one reason: the mice had humanized cells.
Each mouse used had been given human cells and immune systems, and then given a directly mutated form of human disease, in HIV. The fact that they were able to fight off the virus using those cells shows great potential for a breakthrough in human trials.
The University of Southern California researchers claim that if this method works in a human patient, it could provide a one-shot form of treatment.
The stem cells used were engineered, and then manipulated, in order to create mature and working immune cells.These cells multiplied, until there were too many for the HIV virus to attack.
A control group of mice that had not been given the gene therapy, but had been humanized, did not survive the application of the virus.
One major benefit of this therapy, should it work in humans, is that it will be a cost and time efficient method of treatment on a long term scale.
People with HIV can live twenty years or more with the virus, but have to take continuous and costly drugs, long stays in the hospital, and a great deal of pain, time, and energy in fighting and living with it.
This therapy would give a one-time treatment that would cost $100,000, a hefty sum, but significantly less than the cost of years of battling the disease, HealthDay News reports.
The study has been published in the June 2, 2010 edition of Nature Biotechnology.