HIV-infected cells may now be killed by genetically engineered human stem cells, in a huge breakthrough research at the University of California.
Stem cells are biological cells found in every living being that can divide and differentiate into any specialized cell type. They can also multiply to produce more stem cells. During this research on HIV-AIDS, it was found that these stem cells can be made to form immune cells to target HIV viruses.The lead scientist in this research is Scott G Kitchen from the University of California.
He added: “We believe that this study lays the groundwork for the potential use of this type of an approach in combating HIV infection in infected individuals, in hopes of eradicating the virus from the body.”
Right now, the research and findings are based on work on a surrogate model, a humanised mouse in which the infection very closely resembles that in humans.
The engineered stem cells were introduced into the humanised mice. A series of tests were then conducted on their blood, organs and plasma after two and six weeks. It was found that the number of CD4 ‘helper’ T-cells increased (they usually decrease in HIV infection). The levels of HIV infection in the blood also decreased. It was further found that the engineered stem cells were capable of migrating to different organs by themselves to fight infections.
It is indeed a big moment for research in the field of HIV-AIDS. However, what remains to be seen is if this would work on humans too.
Reference: PLoS Pathogens Journal