Genetic Therapy may Prevent HIV

Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered a new potential means of preventing HIV infection.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus responsible for AIDS, is notoriously difficult to treat due to its tendency to mutate. The American team, however, have found a way to get around this problem by preventing infection in the first place. The method consists of altering the genetic codes of the specific white blood cells which are targeted by HIV so as to make them naturally resistant to the virus.

The researchers of the study, published in Molecular Therapy, have claimed that this tailored gene therapy might ultimately replace current HIV drug treatments, which necessitate patients taking multiple drugs on a daily basis. While not a cure for the virus, this method could potentially prevent the spread of infection and, therefore, the likelihood of AIDS developing.

The treatment could eventually also be applied to other blood based diseases, such as sickle cell anaemia.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a deficiency of the immune system due to infection with HIV. Full medical glossary
A reduced level of haemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood. Anaemia causes tiredness, breathlessness and abnormally pale skin. Full medical glossary
A fluid that transports oxygen and other substances through the body, made up of blood cells suspended in a liquid. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of all living organisms. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
Relating to the genes, the basic units of genetic material. Full medical glossary
The abbreviation for human immunodeficiency virus, which is the cause of AIDS. Full medical glossary
Invasion by organisms that may be harmful, for example bacteria or parasites. Full medical glossary
A microbe, such as a type of bacteria, that is able to resist the effects of antibiotics or other drugs. Full medical glossary
A microbe that is only able to multiply within living cells. Full medical glossary