Promising New Approach to Treat AIDS

March 3, 2011

In continuing coverage, the Today Show, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Nature, among other outlets, covered interim results of a Penn AIDS clinical trial presented at this week's Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections. The concept is based on the case of an AIDS patient who seems to be cured after getting blood cells from a donor with natural immunity to HIV nearly four years ago in Berlin. Researchers are seeking a more practical way to achieve similar immunity using patients' own blood cells. Some people (about 1 percent of whites) lack both copies of the CCR5 gene and are naturally resistant to HIV. One such person donated blood stem cells in 2007 to an American man living in Berlin who had leukemia and HIV. The cell transplant appears to have cured both problems, but finding such donors for everyone with HIV is impossible, and transplants are medically risky. So scientists wondered: Could a patient's own cells be used to knock our the CCR5 gene and create resistance to HIV? Carl June, MD, professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine; Pablo Tebas, MD, director, AIDS Clinical Trials Unit; and a Penn clinical trial participant were mentioned. Read More

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