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Engineered Stem Cells Seek Out and Kill HIV In Mice 95

An anonymous reader writes "Expanding on previous research providing proof-of-principle that human stem cells can be genetically engineered into HIV-fighting cells, a team of UCLA researchers have now demonstrated that these cells can actually attack HIV-infected cells in a living organism. From the article: 'This most recent study shows that scientists can manipulate stem cells — immature cells that can develop into any type of cell — by implanting genes, turning it into killer T cells which can kill the virus in living mice. While the mouse form of HIV is not exactly the same as it is in humans, the infection and progression closely mimic the virus in humans, and eliminating it is a huge step forward, researchers said.'"
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Engineered Stem Cells Seek Out and Kill HIV In Mice

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  • Nifty. (Score:2, Offtopic)

    But if life has to imitate Star Trek, couldn't they have picked a better episode? []

  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @03:41PM (#39695055)
    Then much kudos/applause to the scientists who make this happen. Its about time that the mega-nastiness that is HIV/AIDS becomes curable, and I hope that the disease/virus will hopefully be eradicated completely from this planet some day. (On a slightly sentimental note, it is too bad that thousands of lab-mice/-rats have had to suffer all kinds of pains in various science-labs over the decades, just so that we humans can overcome common diseases. Maybe some lab-rat/lab-mice statues should be errected in a few town squares somewhere, so that we become conscious of where our medical cures come from...)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This technique should also be applicable to a lot of other viruses that are hard to fully eliminate in the human body. I have high hopes for it in the coming decades.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 15, 2012 @04:16PM (#39695235)

      I wouldn't count on this being a cure. More likely it will just be a better treatment. One of the reasons that HIV is so hard to cure is that it "hides" by infecting cells that then lie dormant for a long time before they start producing new HIV. This means that even if you can kill all of the active HIV virus, new ones will pop up in the apparently cured patient. I would expect that this treatment would have the same drawback.

      • by tragedy ( 27079 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @05:18PM (#39695599)

        This treatment is meant to actually kill off the infected cells before they spread more HIV around the body. Combining this with anti-retrovirals might actually be able to wipe all of the HIV out of a patients body. At least it's a step in that direction.

        • What I find most interesting about this approach, manipulating stem cells to generate many more killer T cells feel a lot like using cancer to fight HIV... Yes, it's a controlled cancer (maybe?)... Think the reversal of []

          • You understand precisely nothing of what's happening here.

            They are creating a specified number of cells that know how to fight the HIV virus, because your normal immune system can't differentiate well enough.

            This is exactly nothing like the xkcd you posted.

      • by Thiez ( 1281866 )

        I can't really be bothered to RTFA, but depending on their approach you may end up with memory T-cells afterwards, which would mean the immune system would reactivate whenever the virus makes a return. In effect, you would acquire an immunity.

      • Yes, if you believe the hundreds of Slashdot articles that have claimed a new cure for cancer or HIV, you would expect both diseases to have been eradicated a long time ago. "We've engineered new T-cells that only attack cancer cells" - "We've got a new quantum laser that homes in on cancer cells and leaves all other cells intact" - "We've mutated a species of larvae from the Brazilian Rainforest to eat HIV". But somehow. people are still dying many years after those breakthrough discoveries.

        I'll believe it

        • It takes a very long time and a lot of money to go from concept to cure. Generally many, many years of testing and research. Often research that shows promise early on fades out later as it's found to have bad side-effects or be less effective in primates - so not everything pans out. Many times if more than one vector is followed then a good approach may simply be finished too late and another (that isn't better - just as good) is ready sooner.
          The process takes long with very good reason - all that testing

          • I know it takes a long time for a cure to be fully tested and available, but many of these articles make it seem like the treatment works and will cure the disease, and then a decade later it turns out not to be the case. This one was about HIV in mice, but not long ago there was one about leucemia in actual humans, 9 out of 10 would be cured or something like that, and I've been reading articles like this for more than a decade. Meanwhile my grandmother died of leucemia and the doctors said there was nothi

            • That's the nature of science. Nobody pursues a research project if it doesn't have promising results early on. A lot of times those results won't pan out. But over time a few of them will. Those few add up - and that's why modern medicine is so much more advanced than it was even a hundred years ago.

              • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

                that's why modern medicine is so much more advanced than it was even a hundred years ago.

                A hundred years ago? Not even fifty. In the 1960s they used ethyl ether as an anesthetic. Highly falmmable (it's still used as automotive starting fluid) and really NASTY effects. They used it on me when I had a tonsillectomy as a kid, then a couple years later when I broke both my arms. The stuff is a terrible nightmare trip to hell and you wake up sick as a dog.

                Now they say "ok, you're going to sleep now" and you say

    • by Asic Eng ( 193332 ) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @05:12PM (#39695567)

      We have to kill millions of rodents to protect ourselves from disease and to secure our food supplies. Even if you decide to live as a vegetarian mice and rats need to be killed e.g. for grain supplies. It's really absurd to put the focus on the inconsequential number of lab mice.

      We should rather make sure that the scientists who use these lab mice to cure and treat horrible diseases get the respect and public backing they deserve.

    • Well, not completely eradicated I hope! See eg, []
    • by jovius ( 974690 )

      I hope this treatment becomes soon available to the millions of children and would-be mothers infected with HIV. HIV and other STDs can't really be eradicated however. At most we'll probably end up having better protection against them and their prevalence can be lowered below epidemic levels. We still have to practice safe sex and eradicate ignorance.

    • Maybe some lab-rat/lab-mice statues should be errected in a few town squares somewhere, so that we become conscious of where our medical cures come from...)

      I was rolling my eyes until I got to this point and it suddenly became genius. Here is my proposal: A squishy foam "stress reliever" consisting of a noble mouse on a tiny plinth. You could sell them to Archie McPhee.

  • Have these UCLA researchers not read I Am Legend?
  • by thisisauniqueid ( 825395 ) on Monday April 16, 2012 @04:02AM (#39698377)
    Cue a comment about Bolivian tree lizards [].
  • There's definitely incredible potential with the ability to engineer natural killer cells, no doubt about it. But I see a simpler and sooner available solution to HIV and other viral disease with DRACOs (altho it maybe only treatable with these in an early stage or as a 'temporary universal vaccine'). DRACOs (Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizers) are the class of combo ds-DNA detection protein and a programmed cell-death signal protein. The combination makes the cell's automatic suicide proce
  • All cynicism aside, I think that this is an interesting article and personally approve of the use of stem cells of any kind if (and only if) it will work towards the improvement in the quality of life to people now and in the future. Call it narrow minded if it helps you to sleep at night, after all, we're all entitled to an opinion. I think that the effect this sort of breakthrough would have on the whole world (lets take a moment to consider countries where HIV and AIDS are a daily concern) far outweighs
  • all the media articles over the decades related to amazing new discoveries relevant to HIV/AIDS.

    99.999% of it would show that none of it has ever panned out, and it's all mostly bullshit.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN