Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Gene Therapy May Prove to Be a ‘Smart Bomb’ Against HIV, Study Says
Gene therapy could be the "smart bomb" that researchers have been seeking to employ in the fight against HIV, according to a study appearing in the May issue of Nature Biotechnology, Reuters Health reports. Researchers from the Division of Molecular Biology at the City of Hope Cancer Center in Los Angeles are investigating ways to use gene therapy to make the body fight off the virus more efficiently. In one experiment, researchers took bone marrow from people with HIV and combined it with genes that produce siRNA, small pieces of RNA that signal the body to attack HIV. Although the body naturally produces siRNA, the protein cannot be activated because of an "overriding mechanism" in the body. The researchers speculate that the genetically altered bone marrow could be placed back into patients' bone marrow, where it would theoretically "repopulate" the body with cells that are programmed to fight HIV. "This is a new form of target-specific destruction," John Rossi, chair of City of Hope's molecular biology division. So far, experiments have only been carried out in vitro, but researchers expect to test the therapy on people with HIV later this year or in early 2003 (Beasley, Reuters Health, 5/3).
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