Specially engineered immune cells ward off AIDS

A group of scientists have demonstrated that specially engineered stem cells could be used to fights off AIDS, successfully testing the approach in mice engineered to develop immune systems similar to humans.

The investigators started with the observation that a small group of people who are virtually immune to HIV have disabled CCR5 receptors on their immune cells--a door the virus uses to infect the cells. The scientists engineered stem cells with the 'door' essentially locked, then inserted them into the mice, where they developed into immune cells that were able to guard the mice against HIV.

"It's a one-shot treatment if it works," says Paula Cannon, an associate professor at the University of Southern California. She added that their work engineering HIV-resistant cells was "like nature telling us how to cure AIDS."

"One of the doctrines of gene therapy in the context of HIV has been the assumption that every relevant cell must be transformed," said Rowena Johnston, vice president of research with the Foundation for AIDS Research. "This research demonstrates that need not be the case."

- here's the story from HealthDay News