Gene therapy can protect against HIV: An introduced gene conveys long-lived resistance to HIV infection in mice.

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    Dec 04, 2011 3:29 AM GMT
    http://www.nature.com/news/gene-therapy-can-protect-against-hiv-1.9516

    Gene therapy, an approach most commonly explored for curing chronic genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, may also prove practical for disease prevention. In research published today in Nature1, scientists in California show that a single injection — which inserted the DNA for an HIV-neutralizing antibody into the muscle cells of live mice — completely protected the animals against HIV transmission.

    The road to a vaccine against HIV has proved to be far longer than originally anticipated. More than 2 million adults are newly infected with HIV every year and, nearly three decades after the virus was first identified, researchers haven’t found a reliable way to prevent infection. The classic vaccine approach, which uses all or part of an inactivated virus to induce immunity, has yielded little success because HIV has managed to disguise most of the easily-recognised external structures that antibodies would target. Researchers have thus had a tough time finding a molecule that can induce even moderately broad responses against the virus in all its different mutations. So although it might sound extreme to use gene therapy as a preventative treatment for HIV/AIDS, the method could provide a much-needed alternative.

    David Baltimore, a virologist and HIV researcher at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, and his colleagues used a genetically altered adenovirus to infect muscle cells and deliver DNA that codes for antibodies isolated from the blood of people infected with HIV. The DNA is incorporated into the muscle cells’ genome and programs the cells to manufacture the antibody, which is then secreted into the bloodstream. The tactic builds on earlier work by scientists at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, who in 2009 first described the effectiveness of this technique in preventing transmission of simian immunodeficiency virus, which is similar to HIV but infects monkeys2.
  • danielvn

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    Dec 04, 2011 5:52 AM GMT
    There are people who are naturally resistant to HIV due to the fact that they're mutated (lack of the receptor protein CD4 that HIV needs to break into cells). Your body doesnt really need this CD4 receptor so it's a harmless mutation. However, viruses evolve so quickly that in the near future, HIV will no longer need this CD4 receptor to fuse with your cells. Think about it, Flu/Cold viruses evolve so lightning fast that each year you need to be vaccinated again again and again as new strains keep evolving from old strains every year and the more they evolve, the more resistant to antiviral drugs they become. The same for bacteria. So Dream On lol . Also, Viruses and Bacteria can also jump hosts so maybe soon people will be coming down with weird symptoms the human race has never seen before icon_neutral.gif In fact, HIV transforms so fast in a patient's body that hundreds or thousands of new HIV strains are produced in a day that it's almost impossible for the patient's immune system to recognize these strains and destroy them before they can break into more cells and start replicating again. Because HIV uses Reverse Transcriptase to duplicate its viral RNA genome and this stupid RT enzyme makes a lot of mistakes so new strains keep appearing in the patient's body.
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    Dec 04, 2011 6:15 AM GMT
    right, but it's not like we can't keep up with the new flu strains. it might be the same with HIV.
  • danielvn

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    Dec 04, 2011 6:17 AM GMT
    But making a vaccine for HIV is not as easy as for Flu tho icon_cool.gif
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    Dec 04, 2011 6:25 AM GMT
    That's ok guys we can just make siRNA that attaches to HIV and degrades the message before it can activate reverse transcriptase and replicate itself!

    PS
    Weird that this topic came up as I was just studying for a pharmacogenomics final which was talking about this!
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    Dec 04, 2011 6:36 AM GMT
    There's actually been progress in making a universal flu vaccine that won't have to be given every year, but that's a different topic.
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    Dec 04, 2011 9:46 AM GMT
    As somebody already mentioned above, there are people who are immune against HIV.

    First the leck of CD4 (which was mentioned above) but isn't necessarily a 100% safe protection.
    And it could also be because their CCR5 receptor is mutated, so the HIV isn't longer able to identify the T4 cell. But therefore the person is a lot more fragile against the West Nile Virus, which kind of sucks too.

    The "HIV-neutralizing antibody" mentioned in the article probably is one of those CCR5 inhibitors
  • calibro

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    Dec 04, 2011 1:27 PM GMT
    danielvn saidBut making a vaccine for HIV is not as easy as for Flu tho icon_cool.gif


    yes, but the flu is highly contagious and spreads by mutating from animal carriers. even though hiv is simian-based, it cannot spread even remotely as well as the flu and it does not jump species as easily. you wouldn't need a permanent solution to hiv if you could eradicate it through time like smallpox.
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    Dec 04, 2011 1:45 PM GMT
    the genetic mutation in humans that slows down or prevents HIV/AIDS progression is the same mutation that does the same for smallpox:

    http://zeitlerweb.com/about-2/immunity-to-bubonic-plague-and-hiv/
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    Dec 04, 2011 2:38 PM GMT
    strangely..it seems that people who are immune to HIV/AIDS are those whose ancestors survived the bubonic plague..this is an example of genetic selection the old fashioned way..but i think it's wonderful that gene science is making such breakthroughs..the cure for cancer will be found here,i believe....