Genetically modified stem cells against HIV
HIV infection will be treated with genetically modified stem cellsCopper news
Dutch scientists have developed a fundamentally new approach to the treatment of HIV infection using genetically modified blood stem cells, according to PhysOrg (Stem cell therapy to tackle HIV).
Currently, the most effective treatment for this infection is the constant use of a combination of antiviral drugs known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART, HAART). These drugs do not destroy the virus, but only prevent its reproduction in the body, and when they stop taking the disease continues to develop. Given that many patients interrupt the course of treatment for one reason or another, as well as the fact that HIV is constantly changing, acquiring drug resistance, there is a need for alternative therapies.
Researchers from the University of Amsterdam have developed a fundamentally new approach to treatment that can provide a long-term therapeutic effect after a single medical intervention. It consists in delivering antiviral genes to the DNA of immune cells, which will allow them to resist the virus on their own.
To do this, an isolated culture of hematopoietic stem cells – precursors of lymphocytes - is obtained from the patient's bone marrow. In the laboratory, genes encoding small fragments of RNA complementary to key HIV genes are embedded in the DNA of these cells.
Then the stem cells modified in this way are injected back into the patient's body, where new lymphocytes are constantly maturing from them. When HIV enters such lymphocytes, RNA fragments bind to the corresponding virus genes, blocking them (this process is called RNA interference). Thus, the production of new viral particles becomes impossible.
According to the author of the development, Professor Ben Berkhout, preliminary studies of the technique have yielded encouraging results, and its effectiveness and safety are currently being tested on laboratory animals. If successful, scientists expect to begin clinical trials of a new method of HIV infection therapy no later than three years later.
The development report was presented on March 31 at the spring meeting of the Society of General Microbiology in Edinburgh.
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