Stemming the Tide of HIV

I’m becoming rather attached to these 6pm news-style pun titles.

I don’t want to bore you with details I clearly understand very well and much better than you do, but here is the abstract of this research article. These clever folk at UCLA have done-it-in-mice (which is a verb in my mind) of engineering stem cells into T-cells that target and destroy HIV-infected cells.

There is a desperate need for effective therapies to fight chronic viral infections. The immune response is normally fastidious at controlling the majority of viral infections and a therapeutic strategy aimed at reestablishing immune control represents a potentially powerful approach towards treating persistent viral infections. We examined the potential of genetically programming human hematopoietic stem cells to generate mature CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes that express a molecularly cloned, “transgenic” human anti-HIV T cell receptor (TCR). Anti-HIV TCR transduction of human hematopoietic stem cells directed the maturation of a large population of polyfunctional, HIV-specific CD8+ cells capable of recognizing and killing viral antigen-presenting cells. Thus, through this proof-of-concept we propose that genetic engineering of human hematopoietic stem cells will allow the tailoring of effector T cell responses to fight HIV infection or other diseases that are characterized by the loss of immune control.

Blah blah blah. Is it a cure for HIV? My expert opinion is: maybe! Lucky the Foofighters ditched their support for bizarre HIV-AIDS-link-denying organisation Alive & Well. Could have been embarrassing.

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