Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Fighting Leukemia With Modified HIV Virus

HIV is a deadly virus that attacks human immune system allowing life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. Now, researchers at University of Pennsylvania and Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) have found a new use of this deadly virus in fighting Childhood Leukemia.

Researchers have successfully induced cancer remissions by using a disabled form of HIV to reprogram patient's white blood cells. They extracted millions of white blood cells from the patient's body and used genetically altered HIV to turn the patient's cell into a specifically programmed cell.  The cells were then returned into the patient’s body to destroy leukemia cells.

According to Dr. Stephen Grupp, a pediatric oncologist of CHOP, “All of the things that make the HIV virus able to cause disease have been removed from this particular virus whose only purpose is to put a gene into a cell. There is no danger of infection and there is no longer the HIV virus.”

He said that the treatment is being tried experimentally at two hospitals and was intended for childhood leukemia that has returned and no longer responds to chemotherapy. He hoped that this treatment would eventually replace bone marrow transplants.

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