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Thread: Alternative Therapy for Treating HIV

  1. #1 Alternative Therapy for Treating HIV 
    Forum Masters Degree mat5592's Avatar
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    As we all know, HIV is a debilitating virus that infects and destroys the helper T cells (CD4) of the immune system. Over years, infection progresses to AIDS, typically diagnosed when CD4 counts fall below 200/mL (normal counts are usually ~800/mL). CD4 cells are critical mediators of immune function, and destruction of these renders patients susceptible to infections by organisms that are normally non-pathogenic, such as Candida albicans and Pneumocystis jiroveci.

    In a study just recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers demonstrated a new potential treatment for HIV, in which patient CD4 T-lymphs were genetically modified, and then re-introduced into the patient. Basically, the researchers made the CCR5 gene dysfunctional through a technique called zinc-finger nuclease. This then resulted in a decreased expression of the CCR5 protein on the CD4 helper T cells, which is utilized by HIV as a receptor to invade the cells. Lacking the CCR5 protein receptor effectively produces a resistance to HIV. This same phenomenon is observed in people who are homozygous for the CCR5 delta-32 gene mutation, which causes an absence of the cell protein. While the results weren't completely overwhelming, the trial was still promising. One patient even had undetectable levels of the virus afterward.

    The researchers also concluded that the treatment is safe, reporting only one serious adverse event.

    Unfortunately, this stands as more of a treatment currently than a cure. With this method, the patient still produces normal CD4 T lymphs, and thus will always produce a reservoir of T lymphs in which the virus can live and replicate. I still contend that genetically modifying leukocytes, bacteria, viruses, etc. is a promising future approach to treating things ranging from cancer to any number of microbial infections.

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  3. #2  
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    Well, until we have a vaccine and/or a cure, it's a good plan to investigate all possible means of treatment.

    Same as we do for many cancers. Cancer may once have been a death sentence, but for most of the people affected it's now become a chronic disease that's often curable.


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    I definitely agree, especially when it comes to things like cancer, where there will likely never be any single "cure" anytime soon given they're all different diseases. I also know that many researchers don't think an actual cure for HIV will be possible in the near future, so looking into effective treatments seems to be optimal at the moment.
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    Moderator Moderator Cogito Ergo Sum's Avatar
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    I agree with member adelady; we should investigate all possible routes in order to treat an HIV-infection.

    There is one thing I do not understand in the Methods section. What is meant with an "open-label" study?

    Quote Originally Posted by mat5592 View Post
    I also know that many researchers don't think an actual cure for HIV will be possible in the near future, so looking into effective treatments seems to be optimal at the moment.

    Due to the limitation of our current understanding?
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    ~ Arthur Schopenhauer, The Art of Being Right: 38 Ways to Win an Argument (1831), Stratagem XXXVIII.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post

    There is one thing I do not understand in the Methods section. What is meant with an "open-label" study?
    It is basically the opposite of a double blind study; both the researchers and patients know which patient is getting which treatment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cogito Ergo Sum View Post

    There is one thing I do not understand in the Methods section. What is meant with an "open-label" study?

    Quote Originally Posted by mat5592 View Post
    I also know that many researchers don't think an actual cure for HIV will be possible in the near future, so looking into effective treatments seems to be optimal at the moment.
    Due to the limitation of our current understanding?
    I can't remember exactly why they think that, but it might have something to do with the ability of the virus to produce latent reservoirs which would be next to impossible to fully eradicate.
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    A little off-topic here but could one use HI-Virus as a vector in gene modification?
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    Quote Originally Posted by viagratrix View Post
    A little off-topic here but could one use HI-Virus as a vector in gene modification?

    HIV could be used as a viral vector, but I have not yet come across an experiment that has used HIV as a vector of gene modification.
    "The only safe rule is to dispute only with those of your acquaintance of whom you know that they possess sufficient intelligence and self-respect not to advance absurdities; to appeal to reason and not to authority, and to listen to reason and yield to it; and, finally, to be willing to accept reason even from an opponent, and to be just enough to bear being proved to be in the wrong."

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