Scripps researchers make immune cells resistant to HIV

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in California have reported a development, which could prove to be an important breakthrough in the fight against HIV.

Researchers at the institute had found a way to replace infected cells with virus-resistant cells in order to create, and maintain, an HIV-free environment. Although the technique has been shown to be effective in a lab setting, the researchers hoped to change that.

In the study, Scripps researchers bonded HIV-fighting antibodies to immune cells making the cells resistant to the virus. The cells then quickly replaced the infected cells.

What made the treatment different from past attempts was that researchers had figured out a way to attach HIV antibodies to the cell surface, instead of having them float freely in the bloodstream. According to study researcher Jia Xie, the technique would offer longer-term protection against the virus and could be thought of as a cure, Medical Xpress reported.

''The ultimate goal will be the control of HIV in patients with AIDS without the need for other medications," John A Zaia, MD, director of the Center for Gene Therapy in the Hematological Malignancy and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute at City of Hope, said in a recent statement.

The antibodies attached to areas of the cell where HIV normally would.

According to a report in Science Daily, the researchers led by senior author Dr Richard Lerner, plan to collaborate with other scientists at City of Hope's Center for Gene Therapy to evaluate the findings and perform further tests in accordance with federal laws before the technique could be tested on patients.

HIV, a virus spread through certain body fluids attacks the body's immune system, specifically the CD4 cells. Over time, HIV could destroy many of these cells weakening the body's response to infections and disease.

If left untreated, HIV could lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).