Scientists from the University of California Los Angeles have found that genetically engineered human stem cells can suppress HIV in living mice, raising the hope for a breakthrough cure for HIV patients.
In a recent study from the journal PLoS Pathogens, researchers wanted to go further than previous studies that used vaccines to slow HIV progression. They cloned a molecule that controls “killer” T cells, white blood cells that recognize and kill HIV-infected cells. The molecule was then injected with human blood stem cells inside of mice to control those cells for observation.
Over a month after injecting the cells into the mice, researchers found an increase in the amount of T-cells needed to fight HIV cells. The study revealed for the first time that engineered cells were capable of developing and migrating to the organs to fight infection there. Lead researcher Scott G. Kitchen, an assistant professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, was pleased with the results.
“We believe that this study lays the groundwork for the potential use of this type of an approach in combating HIV infection in infected individuals, in hopes of eradicating the virus from the body,” Kitchen said. “We believe that this is the first step in developing a more aggressive approach in correcting the defects in the human T cell responses that allow HIV to persist in infected people.”
Researchers acknowledged that genetically engineered “humanized” mice have their immune cells restructure at higher levels than humans and are working on developing T cell receptors than can target different parts of the virus.
Andrew Jones is a staff writer/reporter for Raw Story. Besides covering politics, he is also a freelance sports journalist, as well as a slam poetry and music artist. You can follow him on Twitter @sluggahjells.
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