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Immune Cells Kill HIV

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Scientists Design Assassin Immune Cells Which Can Kill HIV-Infected Cells.

Scientist and researchers are almost on the brink of discovering a cure for HIV and AIDS. There have been many advancements in the recent years, but there have also been several disappointments in the quest for a vaccine, notably the failure of the Merck HIV vaccine trial.

t cells Immune Cells Kill HIV

Immunologist Philip Goulder said:

“I think the field as a whole has been taking a step back and thinking we need some different ideas all together,”

Once again on the right track, scientists say they have now bred super immune cells that are able to recognize and destroy many variants of HIV-infected cells.

The idea was to create a mutant type of immune cells, called T-cells, that would target SL9, a protein that is part of HIV and also appears on the surface of HIV-infected cells.

The team started with particularly strong T-cells from a patient who had resisted HIV infection. Researcher Brent Jakobsen said:

“When we tested the T cells from this patient, it looked as if he was responding to a number of those variants that normally escape the immune system,”

The researchers then selected T-cell mutants that had receptors enhanced to recognize and latch onto SL9.

The researchers reported that in lab tests on human cells, the modified T-cells easily destroyed HIV-infected cells and even recognized tricky variants of the SLP9 protein.

Thanks to a genome which helps the virus mutate with ease, HIV has been able to skirt immune systems, drugs and vaccines. But some parts of HIV are so vital to its functioning that changes can effectively kill off the virus.

Even if the new and improved immune cell fighters don’t kill the virus outright, they may still have a beneficial impact.

Researcher Andy Sewell said:

“In the face of our engineered assassin cells, the virus will either die or be forced to change its disguises again, weakening itself along the way,”

Researchers now plant to test the T-cells in mice engineered to produce human immune cells and infected with HIV. Researchers hope the results will lead to trails in humans: An article in Guardian explained the procedure:

“Treating patients will involve taking a blood sample and adding an engineered virus containing genes for the improved T cell receptor. The patient’s own T cells then take up the genes and so are equipped with the improved receptor. These cells are then injected back into the patient.”

Researchers do have their doubts, one is that the assassin T-cells may be too specific and will not recognize different variants of SL9. Another is that they may not be specific enough and could attack other proteins, including human proteins.

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