Tuesday, November 07, 2006

AIDS Fighting AIDS

[Posted by reader_iam]

University of Pennsylvania researchers are encouraged by a genetically engineered strain of the AIDS virus that seems to fight other strains and improve immune systems.
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.
[Dr. Carl June said,] "It seemed to have a vaccine-like effect in that the immune system was better in most of the patients than when they enrolled. We are trying to study the mechanism."
June's team removed the immune cells, CD4 T-cells, that are attacked by HIV. The researchers infected the CD4 cells in the lab with their newly engineered antisense HIV virus, then infused them back onto the patients.
This test was meant only to show that the approach was safe, and three years later, none of the patients show any ill effects.

The treatment appears to have helped restore the immune systems of four of the five patients [for whom conventional treatments were failing], and the virus remains partly suppressed.

Wow. Of course it's too soon to celebrate, but wouldn't it be terrific if UP researchers are onto something that could lead to a cure, and maybe even a preventive vaccine someday?

Go science!