Altering CD4+ T Cells and Placing Them Back in the Body Could Boost Immune System Performance Against HIV, Study Says
Removing a person's CD4+ T cells, modifying them to make them more resistant to HIV and placing the altered cells back in the body could boost immune system performance in HIV-positive people, according to a study published in the January issue of Nature Medicine. BBC News reports that researchers removed CD4+ T cells from the bodies of eight HIV-positive participants and modified the CCR5 receptors, which are located on the surface of CD4+ T cells and are "critical" entryways for HIV. The scientists reduced the number of CCR5 receptors on the participants' CD4+ T cells -- mimicking a genetic mutation that "renders some people resistant to HIV" -- and then placed the cells back in the patients' bodies. The researchers report that the altered cells "seemed to be reproducing inside the ... body," indicating that the treatment might offer long-term protection against the virus. Additional studies on the technique are underway. Mark Graver of the British HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust said, "Any new HIV treatment developments are to be welcomed, especially as increasing numbers of people are becoming infected with drug-resistant strains of the virus," but he cautioned that more research on the technique is needed (BBC News, 1/2).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.