Stem-cell work closes a door to AIDS virus

Jul 02, 2010

Lab work on mice has opened up a novel way of closing a gateway to the AIDS virus, according to a study published on Friday.

The doorway in question is called CCR5, a protein that helps the (HIV) penetrate a cell, its first step before hijacking the cellular machinery and reproducing itself.

Around a decade ago, scientists discovered that people who had a tiny gap in the for making CCR5 were surprisingly resistant to and took more time to progress to .

This , known as CCR5 delta 32, results in smaller CCR5 proteins, which prevents most strains of HIV from infecting the cell.

Testing a theory, scientists in the United States took immature haematopoietic cells -- which make immune and -- from mice.

They modified some of the cells, using a brand-new enzyme "cutter" to delete the famous CCR delta 32 section.

As a result, when these cells matured and divided, they lacked the key code for making normal CCR5.

The modified cells were reinjected back into the rodents, which were then exposed to HIV. Twelve weeks after infection, the animals had recovered their stock of immune T-cells and their levels of HIV were very low.

But "control" mice that had not received the modified cells were highly infected and their immune systems weak.

If the approach is found to be safe and effective on humans, it opens the way to creating a long-term generation of HIV-resistant T-cells in the body -- in other words, a patient could suppress HIV without taking powerful .

The experiment headed by Paula Cannon of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and reported in the journal Nature Biotechnology, is the third avenue that has opened up for CCR5 investigators .

Drugs that inhibit CCR5 are already being licensed as "salvage" therapy for patients whose immune systems have been crippled by HIV.

Doctors are also testing in trials on volunteers a CCR delta 32 technique, but using T-cells as opposed to stem cells.

Around two million people died from AIDS in 2008, and 33.4 million were living with HIV, according to UN figures published last November.

The International AIDS Conference, an event held once every two years, takes place in Vienna from July 18-23.

Explore further: HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

AIDS resistance secret may be in blood

Feb 12, 2007

U.S. scientists say the absence of a specific marker in the blood and tissues of certain monkeys might be part of the key to understanding AIDS resistance.

FDA approves antiretroviral drug

Aug 07, 2007

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the antiretroviral drug maraviroc for use in adult human immunodeficiency virus patients.

UC Davis researchers exploring gene therapy to fight AIDS

Dec 05, 2008

The apparent success of a case in which German doctors cured a man of AIDS using a bone marrow transplant comes as no surprise to Gerhard Bauer, a UC Davis stem cell researcher. Bauer has been working for more than 10 years ...

Human testis harbors HIV-1 in resident immune cells

Nov 27, 2006

Researchers have demonstrated HIV replication within resident immune cells of the testis, providing an explanation for the persistence of virus in semen even after effective highly active antiretroviral therapy. The related ...

Recommended for you

HIV+ women respond well to HPV vaccine

Apr 16, 2014

HIV-positive women respond well to a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV), even when their immune system is struggling, according to newly published results of an international clinical trial. The study's findings ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

maxcypher
not rated yet Jul 02, 2010
Wow!

More news stories

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

Venture investments jump to $9.5B in 1Q

Funding for U.S. startup companies soared 57 percent in the first quarter to a level not seen since 2001, as venture capitalists piled more money into an increasing number of deals, according to a report due out Friday.

White House updating online privacy policy

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.