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AIDS and stem cells

An important strategy in overcoming the disease is the use of a new type of stem cell therapy, which internally defenses the immune system against HIV.

Ben BerkhoutAccording to a professor at the University of Amsterdam, this new approach can dramatically improve the quality of life and the quality of life of people living with HIV who are not effective against antiviral drugs. Because no effective vaccine is available yet, the only effective therapy for HIV is the daily administration of antiretroviral drugs. However, patients often do not co-operate and the virus is often mutated, resulting in the development of drug resistant virus strains that are difficult to treat. Berkhout and his colleagues are working on a new gene therapy that has long-lasting effects, even once. In the course of treatment, antiviral DNA is introduced into the patient's immune cells, which is used to immunize them against virus infection. "This therapy is an alternative for people living with HIV who cannot be treated with standard antiviral drugs anymore" the professor said.
During the procedure, stem cells are extracted from the bone marrow of the patients and, following purification, the laboratory supplies the antiviral DNA. The cells are then injected back into the body. Introduced DNA is a mapping of the RNA transcripts of HIV-causing genes, a phenomenon called viral interference, which enables DNA to block expression of these viral genes.

Fertilizing cells multiply

Introducing antiviral DNA into stem cells could greatly restore the patient's immune system. "Stem cells are a pattern of continuously dividing sample cells from which all other immune cells are derived. If we change the stem cells, the antiviral DNA will be present in all the immune cells of origin." Berkhout explained. The researchers hope that clinical trials can begin within three years.