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Medicine Science

Italian Team Cures Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome With the Help of HIV 109

Posted by Soulskill
from the bending-it-to-our-will dept.
New submitter tchernobog writes "An Italian team funded by Telethon and S. Raffaele of Milan, was able to cure six kids affected by lethal genetic diseases (in Italian, English video): the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and the metachromatic leukodystrophy. This is the culmination of a project lasted 15 years, and which cost more than 30M €; the researchers published some preliminary results last year in Nature, and are waiting for the results on more patients to submit another. The really interesting part is: they used a mix of advanced genetic techniques to achieve this result. Firstly, the DNA of a defective cell is corrected with a gene assembled in the lab. This procedure has been very dangerous for the past 20 years: that it can even be used is a good achievement alone. Secondly, the corrected DNA is propagated in the patient's body using a stripped-down version of HIV, of which less than 10% of its original genome remains. Might the feared HIV in reality prove to be salvation for some?"
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Italian Team Cures Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome With the Help of HIV

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  • by Gavin Scott (15916) on Friday July 12, 2013 @12:37PM (#44262367)

    MITx is offering the second session of their free massively open course 7.00x on Introduction to Biology - The Secret of Life taught by one of the best teachers I have ever listened to, Eric Lander of MIT, which starts on Sept 10th: []

    This class is mostly about the molecular biology machinery that makes cells work, and it should be fascinating to anyone who finds the way computers work interesting because most of what goes on at the cellular level is actually information processing and digital operations (though based on stochastic principles).

    Warning: this class might make you want to (or wish you could) change your career path...


  • by Gavin Scott (15916) on Friday July 12, 2013 @01:54PM (#44263185)

    True. Depending on the processes involved, the chance that a live intact HIV virus inadvertently makes it through the system into a patient is probably greater than getting home from the rug store to find out that a live bear made it through the rug making process.

    But on the other hand one of the researchers involved (or even TFA) might be able to explain to your satisfaction that the chances of these two different events are actually quite similar due to the methods being employed to produce the synthetic biology product.


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