Can Gene Therapy Protect Humanity Against the HIV Virus?

Gene therapy, a type of medical approach that is usually used to cure chronic diseases that are caused by genetics, may be a practical solution to solve other types of diseases that threaten humanity. Published in a publication of Nature, scientists located in California, showed that by providing one single injection of their gene therapy serum, which included DNA along with an HVI  antibody in live mice, completely sheltered the animals from contracting HIV.

Coming up with an effective vaccine to fight off HIV, the virus that also causes AIDS has been tough. There are roughly more than two million adults in the world that become infected with the virus every single year.  HIV has been around for approximately three decades, and now there is finally a break in its resolution.

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HIV Virus

A lot of the classic vaccination approaches that were tested in the past, have failed due to the HIV viruses ability to disguise its external structures from the antibodies that the vaccines were built to eliminate. Researchers have been working on a vaccination for this disease for years. It has been extremely difficult to find a vaccination that was able to keep up with the different mutations that the disease can take on.

David Baltimore, an HIV researcher and virologist that works for the California Institute of Technology, along with several colleagues, used an altered adenovirus to infect the muscle cells that deliver the different DNA codes for antibodies that were isolated due to the HIV virus. The DNA is incorporated inside of the muscle cells to manufacture an antibody that fights off the virus.

Neutralizing Antibodies to Protect Against HIV Infection

During the clinical tests, Baltimore and his group of researchers tested five neutralizing antibodies, in mice that had a humanized immunity system. There were two antibodies, the b12 and VRC01, that proved to be extremely effective. Baltimore and his team noticed that these two antibodies protected mice that had been given one hundred times higher than an HIV infection, from contracting the disease.

After fifty-two weeks had passed, the mice still showed an increased resistance to the virus. After this long stretch, Baltimore and his team are certain that their new remedy will allow the protective antibody levels in mammals to remain high for an elongated frame of time. Seeing how great the mice reacted to the treatment, Baltimore and his team are preparing for further human trials down the road.

[box type=”important”]Scientists believe that by giving patients sporadic doses of the antibodies during their lifetime, the human body will naturally build up a resistance against the virus. The muscle cells within the human body will begin to work function as antibody breeding grounds.[/box]

The Future of Gene Therapy for Treating HIV?

There are a lot of experts that are optimistic, but a little bit wary if this type of gene therapy is going to be the solution that the world has needed for close to three decades now. The only way to be sure, is to begin conducting human trials of the vaccination. The first rounds of human studies for the vaccination are scheduled to begin shortly before 2012 ends.


Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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