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A Stem Cell Treatment Against AIDS

London: Scientists claim to have achieved a major breakthrough in the fight against AIDS with a new stem cell treatment which “Protects the immune system from HIV that causes the disease”.

According to them, the pioneering technique involves isolating three genes which curb the spread of HIV inside the body, introducing them into human stem cells in a lab and then transplanting the stem cells into a patient’s bone marrow.

“What we are doing is genetically modifying a fraction of the patient’s stem cells with genes that target three different aspects of HIV that allow it to get in the immune cells and replicate.

“When those stem cells are transplanted into patients, they create mature immune cells that circulate in the patient and protect against HIV,” ‘The Daily Telegraph’ quoted David DiGiusto of City of Hope Medical Centre in California, where the research was carried out, as saying.

In the first human trial, the scientists transplanted anti-HIV stem cells into five AIDS patients undergoing bone– marrow replacement as part of treatment for a form of cancer known as lymphoma.

Preliminary results showed that small quantities of the transplanted stem cells were able to grow and produce new white blood cells resistant to HIV resulting in an improvement in the patients’ conditions.

Now, they are planning further research to establish whether the treatment could even rid patients of HIV infection altogether. “It is still an experimental treatment at the moment, but we hope that eventually we will be able to give AIDS patients one transplant and that would then protect them for life. We have data to show that the resistant cells are persisting in our lymphoma patients,” DiGiusto said.

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Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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