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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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  • Re:Billions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mathmathrevolution ( 813581 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @11:29AM (#38237724)

    Are you from 1982?

    Most people who get AIDS today are young heterosexual females. They are not "fucking random strangers in the ass without protection."

    AIDS is a disease that any sexually active person can get, even if they use protection. I don't sleep around a lot, but I have sex and unprotected oral sex. Why do you think my partners and I deserve to die? Because we are violating your personal moral code? Or because you are driven by resentment of your more sexually successful peers?

  • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @11:30AM (#38237738) Journal

    The thought that occurred to me was: if your muscle cells have had a coding sequence for an antibody injected into them, aren't they now engaging in effort that has nothing to do with their primary function? Wouldn't that impact things in old age? Wouldn't that increase the likelihood of heart problems, perhaps?

    Then, one might think: why would you want to produce a boatload of HIV antibodies after your years of promiscuous sexual activity are over? Very few of us continue with that behavior ad infinitum.

  • Re:Gay Mice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HBI ( 604924 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @11:35AM (#38237822) Journal

    Or it could have something to do with the methodology of intercourse for lesbians. Not so much anal tearing going on there, for instance.

  • Re:Billions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gyaku_zuki ( 1778282 ) on Friday December 02, 2011 @11:40AM (#38237912) Homepage

    Jeez - and here I thought Slashdot to be a haven from this sort of nonsense. Seriously, you and your fellow 'Anonymous Coward's should have your human license revoked.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 02, 2011 @12:12PM (#38238420)

    1: Allergic reactions tend to develop over time. You may not be allergic at first, but as a result of constant exposure, you may become so over time. Antibodies are small and soluble enough that this isn't usually a problem, but with a non-self fC region, they can be. We've seen this occasionally with the purification tags used in many common biotherapeutics; if your immune system begins to recognize the tag (his-6 is common) from one therapeutic, any other biologic with the same tag will cause an allergic reaction. Note: this doesn't normally occur with antibody-based therapeutics since they can be efficiently purified without being tagged.
    2: The thing about turning it off is that the off switch has to be hit in the same cells that are producing it; i.e. millions of separate sites. More gene therapy is unlikely to hit *all* of the same cells, and will potentially cause some unintended consequences in non-target cells. The solution is to use a molecular switch. If I were designing it, I'd flank the antibody promoter region and the transcription start site with loxP recognition sequences. Add a cre recombinase gene under the direction of an antibiotic-activated promoter. Basically this would allow you to reverse at least a portion of the gene therapy at will. Take an antibiotic and the affected cells would actually cut out the antibody producing region they introduced. Unfortunately, if you wanted to again have protection, you'd have to undergo the gene therapy again. You could do a similar setup using siRNA under a controlled promoter, but this scheme also has its drawbacks (repression of the transgene therapeutic would only be temporary - which could be better or worse depending on your goals). Anyway, whichever scheme you use will have to be introduced in conjunction with the original treatment; adding it afterwards won't work nearly as well due to the difficulty in getting the treatment to all of the affected cells.

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