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Medicine Science

Gene Therapy Approach 'Completely' Protects Mice From HIV Infection 190

Pierre Bezukhov writes "Scientists from the California Institute of Technology have come up with a gene therapy approach that has proven effective in protecting mice (with humanized immune systems) against HIV infections. They used a genetically altered virus to infect muscles cells and deliver DNA codes of potent antibodies isolated from the blood of human HIV victims (abstract). The muscle cells then began to manufacture the antibodies in quantities that proved 'completely protective' against HIV infection. By contrast, traditional vaccines have not worked against HIV, as scientists have failed to find a molecule that induces the immune system to produce enough potent antibodies. The difficulties stem from the fact that HIV disguises some of its external structures from the antibodies."
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Gene Therapy Approach 'Completely' Protects Mice From HIV Infection

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  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @11:38AM (#38237870) Homepage

    There have already been trials. You give the treatment to one group of at-risk individuals and a placebo to another group. You make sure that they understand that they aren't to rely on this as a cure/certain protection. Then you follow them over the years and see what the infection rate is. If 30% of the control group is infected with HIV at the end and only 5% of the treatment group is infected, you've got a good result. If they are both about the same, your treatment doesn't work.

  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @11:58AM (#38238192)
    Unfortunately, the best ways to prevent HIV infection are not within the realm of what can reasonably be expected. People tend to have sex, to not be monogamous, and prefer not to discuss previous sexual partners. Condoms are highly effective but not perfect, and condoms substantially reduce the pleasure men feel while having sex (and I even know some women who do not like the feeling of a condom).

    The reality is that a vaccine or cure for HIV is needed in order for the disease to be eradicated. There is no other way to solve this problem. You will never be able to convince millions (let alone billions) people to be monogamous and to wait until marriage.
  • Re:Trouble is (Score:5, Informative)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:58PM (#38239314)

    It can't be cited other than by checking every single scientific study in all of history and seeing that nonw of them proof that ADIS is caused by HIV.

    it can be trivially disproved by showing the proof of course.

    For that we basically have Koch's Postulates.

    1. The germ must be found in every host with the disease
    There have been cases of of AIDS like symptoms without HIV: []

    They are very rare though, and just because something that isn't influenza can cause flu like symptoms doesn't mean influenza doesn't cause the flu.

    Essentially everyone with AIDS tests positive for HIV, and >99% of people without AIDS test negative for HIV.

    2. The germ must be isolated from the host and grown in pure culture
    This is done routinely .

    3. The germ must cause the disease when introduced into a susceptible healthy host.
    4. The germ must be re-isolated from the infected host

    Ethics prevent us from doing these steps for things we think will kill you.

    However, there have been a few lab accidents in which workers have been infected with HIV (cultured HIV, not just say blood from an AIDS patient getting into their bloodstream, which would carry more than just HIV). All of them showed T-cell depletion. And HIV was then isolated from them and matched the one they had been infected with exactly. []

    Plus the dozens of health care workers who have contracted AIDS from mistakes with HIV+ blood/etc - clearly not as good as isolated HIV infection for showing it is HIV, but more volume.

  • Re:Billions (Score:5, Informative)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @01:35PM (#38239862) Homepage

    ... in the United States.

    That's where you go wrong: compared to southern Africa, where about 1 out of every 5 adults currently infected, the 50,000 per year in the US is almost negligible. And in that population, about 60% of all adults with HIV are women and girls.

    source [].

  • Re:Billions (Score:5, Informative)

    by mathmathrevolution ( 813581 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @01:41PM (#38239972)

    1) Most people getting infected with AIDS aren't in the United States. They are in Africa and other underdeveloped regions.

    2) AIDS prevalence is not the same as the infection rate. The total AIDS prevalence is high among gay men for historical reasons. But young heterosexual women are now the most at risk demographic.

  • by robotkid ( 681905 ) <alanc2052@yahoo. c o m> on Friday December 02, 2011 @06:54PM (#38244972)

    Nah, we just have to find blind corners of human civilization that nobody cares about. [] , []

    To do this in todays times... Guantanamo anyone?

    Not too off the mark. Prior trials on HIV prevention have been done on high risk populations in Thailand and Botswana. And these are studies sponsored by the CDC, not a rogue evil scientist as with the Guatemala experiments (whom, it should be noted, had absolutely no oversight even though he was using US tax dollars as these checks weren't required back then). []

    Overseas trials do bring up a whole host of ethical concerns (especially when dealing with populations that have little or no access to healthcare - making participation in a trial perhaps the only way to see a real doctor). This is a real issue because usually the control population gets "standard of care" which is very different in the US vs the developing world. What's even shadier is that there have been allegations of drug companies secretly hiring shady doctors in the third world to enroll patients in highly risky studies that would never be approved in the US, and the patients often don't even know they were in an experimental study, they thought they were getting a proven treatment.

    At least, with the CDC trials, one can be assured that the participants are actually volunteers who gave explicit consent and had the risks explained to them (unlike those Guatemalan prisoners who had no choice), that the trial protocol passed review by external ethics boards both in the US and by the local governmental authority (again, unlike Guatemala where outside of a few prison officials the local gov't had no idea what was going on). Not that these are fool-proof checks in countries with unstable or nonexistent public health infrastructures and highly corrupt officials, but at least it's something.

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson