The search for a cure for AIDS: If it ain’t broke…
March 12, 2014 Editor 0
To your very good health, sir!
GENE therapy usually works by repairing a broken gene or creating a new one where none previously existed. Breaking a working gene to effect a cure is a novel approach. That, though, is what Carl June of the University of Pennsylvania and his colleagues are trying to do. As they explain in the New England Journal of Medicine, by damaging a gene called CCR5 they hope to treat—and possibly cure—infection with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.CCR5 encodes a protein that sits on the surface membranes of T-lymphocytes, cells which are part of the immune system. The protein’s job is to latch onto signal molecules called chemokines. Unfortunately, it also latches onto strains of HIV, assisting their passage into the lymphocyte, where the virus then reproduces.A consequence is that those whose CCR5 genes are broken are immune to infection by these strains. Moreover, an HIV patient called Timothy Brown (pictured) who, in 2007 and 2008, had bone-marrow transplants from a donor with broken CCR5…
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Categories: The Economist
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