June 29, 2007

German Scientists Remove HIV-1 From Human Cells

Today's issue of Science includes a publication by researchers at the Heinrich Pette Institute for Experimental Virology and Immunology in Hamburg and their partners at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, discussing the results of their attempt to use enzymes to remove a specific, rarely mutating sequence of HIV-1: successful results.

The treatment would involve removing blood from a patient, isolating their stem cells from that blood, treating with the enzymes, then returning the treated cells to the body to "boost" the immune system. Of course, there will first be several years of mouse trials before human trials, but they are cautiously optimistic that there will be a cure for HIV infection within a decade.

While it is of course important to note that this is high-tech medicine that would at least initially only be available to the wealthy (or at least well-insured) in industrialized nations, it is equally hard to not be excited by the potential within this research.

-Kelly Hills

View blog reactions

| More