Australian study turns HIV against itself (Update)
File picture. An Australian scientist said he had discovered how to turn the HIV virus against itself to stop it progressing to AIDS, describing it as a major breakthrough in finding a cure for the disease.
An Australian scientist said Wednesday he had discovered a way to turn the HIV virus against itself in human cells in the laboratory, in an important advance in the quest for an AIDS cure.
David Harrich from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research said he modified a protein in HIV that normally helps the virus spread, into a "potent" inhibitor.
The protein was introduced to immune cells targeted by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), where it slowed the reproduction of the virus after infection.
The experiments were conducted in a lab dish, and thorough testing on lab animals is needed before any human trials can begin.
"I have never seen anything like it. The modified protein works every time," said Harrich.
Harrich's team, whose study is published in the journal Human Gene Therapy, said the modified protein dubbed Nullbasic inhibited virus replication about eight- to ten-fold in some cells.
"If this research continues down its strong path, and bear in mind there are many hurdles to clear, we're looking at a cure for AIDS," the researcher said.
Commenting on the study, Frank Wegmann, an Oxford University HIV vaccine researcher, told AFP a Nullbasic-based drug was "quite far from application".
Creating a drug would be challenging, he said, as it would require introducing "designed" information into the genes of people to be treated.
"The immune cells of the blood are the primary cells which are infected by HIV and if you want to have a cure with this new protein, you need to... get every immune cell to make this protein," he explained.
This would require gene therapy—a complicated, rare, potentially dangerous and very expensive option.
"They (the Australian researchers) have partly addressed that question. They have partly tested that (gene therapy), but not really in patients or in infected people, only in the lab."
Harrich said Nullbasic held promise for curbing the spread of the virus as well as for treating people who already have AIDS, and described it as "fighting fire with fire".
"The virus might infect a cell but it wouldn't spread," he said.
"You would still be infected with HIV, it's not a cure for the virus, but the virus would stay latent, it wouldn't wake up, so it wouldn't develop into AIDS.
"With a treatment like this, you would maintain a healthy immune system."
An HIV-infected person is said to have AIDS when their count of CD4 immune system cells drops below 200 per microlitre of blood or they develop any one of 22 opportunistic infections like cancer or tuberculosis as a result.
Most people infected with HIV, if left untreated, would develop AIDS about 10 to 15 years later, according to the UN. Antiretroviral treatments can prolong this window period.
The new Nullbasic therapy, if proven, could see the spread of HIV halted indefinitely, bringing an end to the deadly condition, said Harrich.
Using a treatment based on a single protein could spell an end to onerous multiple drug regimes for HIV patients, meaning a better quality of life and lower costs.
Animal trials are due to start this year.
Even if all goes according to plan, said Wegmann, a Nullbasic-based treatment was probably about 10 years off.
"There are many other potential strategies towards a cure, but so far nothing works and it's not clear whether anything will ever work," he said.
"One really has to wait for results of animal studies and clinical trials to really judge this."
UN figures show the number of people infected with HIV worldwide rose to 34 million in 2011 from 33.5 million in 2010.
The vast majority (23.5 million) live in sub-Saharan Africa, with another 4.2 million in South and Southeast Asia.
There were 1.7 million AIDS-related deaths worldwide in 2011—24 percent fewer than in 2005 and nearly six percent below the 2010 level.
New HIV infections have at least halved in 25 low and middle income countries over the past decade.
The UN said in November that achieving zero new infections in children appeared increasingly possible.
More information: Paper: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.g… med/23298160
Journal reference: Human Gene Therapy
(c) 2013 AFP
- UN hails sharp decline in HIV infections in kids (Update) Nov 20, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Facts about HIV/AIDS worldwide in 2011 Jul 18, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- HIV isolate from Kenya provides clues for vaccine design Jan 02, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- HIV-2 infection inhibits HIV-1 disease progression Jul 19, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Drug designer: New tool reveals mutations that cause HIV-drug resistance Jul 08, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
(HealthDay)—For HIV-infected individuals with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, fecal microbiota therapy is feasible, according to a letter published in the May 21 issue of the Annals of Intern ...
HIV & AIDS 22 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Canadian health authorities lifted Wednesday what was effectively a ban on gay men giving blood, announcing new rules making men who have not had sex with men in the past five years eligible.
HIV & AIDS May 22, 2013 | not rated yet | 1
Top AIDS scientists were optimistic Wednesday of finding a cure for the disease that has claimed 30 million lives—but said it might not work for all people.
HIV & AIDS May 22, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
The integration of mental health interventions into HIV prevention and treatment platforms can reduce the opportunity costs of care and improve treatment outcomes, argues a new Policy Forum article published in this week's ...
HIV & AIDS May 21, 2013 | not rated yet | 0
Even while being dragged to its destruction inside a cell, a cancer-promoting growth factor receptor fires away, sending signals that thwart the development of tumor-suppressing microRNAs (miRNAs) before it's dissolved, researchers ...
48 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Finnish researchers unveiled new data Thursday to link the Pandemrix flu vaccine to a higher risk of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy in adults.
48 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Maintaining a heart healthy lifestyle may also help protect chronic kidney disease patients from developing kidney failure and dying prematurely, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the Am ...
18 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(AP)—Johnson & Johnson is developing what could eventually be game-changing treatments for depression and pain, and it's aiming to apply for approval of more than 10 new medicines by 2017, executives said Thursday during ...
38 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
The Senate has overwhelmingly rejected an amendment allowing states to require labeling of genetically modified foods.
28 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Ethnic background plays a surprisingly large role in how diabetes develops on a cellular level, according to two new studies led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |