AIDS New Novel Approach Treatment End to Pandemic?

Aids red ribbons UK

Researchers have found a new novel approach to engineer immune system key cells to resist HIV infection which causes AIDS that could end the pandemic.

In America, intravenous drug users account for about one in 13 new HIV cases, but they make up to about 80 percent in Eastern Europe and central Asia.  Approximately, 96,000 people are currently living with HIV in the UK and 22,600 of them are unaware of their infection, according to the National AIDS Trust. The largest group of HIV-positive people in the UK are men who have sex with men who account for around 40,000 of the HIV infected population. One percent of the people with HIV in the UK died in 2011.

People who inject drugs can spread AIDS by sharing tainted needles or sex. The recently approved anti-retroviral drug prescribed for AIDS high-risk groups, could be available soon for those who inject methamphetamine and heroin, for both heterosexual couples, and gay men.

Tenofovir is recommended to be taken by drug users daily, after the results from the study carried out by CDC and Thai government health officials. U.S. Health officials do not know how many people are already taking the drug to protect them against the infection, and they cannot confirm how many of the nation’s 1 million drug users have the insurance or money to pay for it.

Scientists followed over 2,400 drug users for four years across Bangkok, Thailand’s clinics. Half of them were given a daily dose of Tenofovir (Viread), and the other half were given a placebo. It was concluded that the drug reduces HIV risk by 50 percent. Presently, the only HIV prevention drug in the U.S. is Truvada made by Gilead Sciences Inc., which costs $14,000 a year, while Tenovir costs $360 a year per patient.

Scientists are also working on an HIV vaccine, but the U.S. government stopped the experimental vaccine trials after it was found that it did not prevent HIV infection. The research started in 2009, so far the latest in the series of failed attempts to develop a vaccine against the virus.

Although more than twenty antiretroviral drugs have already been approved for HIV treatment, additional options are still in demand for people who are resistant to existing products. The drug pipeline consists booster drugs, (FDCs) fixed dose combinations and maturation inhibitors approved by FDA.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found a novel way to engineer immune system key cells to antagonize HIV that causes AIDS using molecular scissors to cut and paste HIV resistant genes into T cells.

Matthew Porteus, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford and a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Lucile Packard Children’s hospital said that the genome editing was made in a gene by inserting additional anti-HIV genes and inactivating a receptor gene to block the virus from entering the cells and destroying the immune system.

Porteus confirmed that this new approach they call stacking is a multiple layer protection tailored gene therapy that could eventually replace drug treatment.

However, more clinical trials are still required to conclude whether this new novel approach can indeed end the AIDS pandemic.  This study was published in the Molecular Therapy January 22, 2013 issue.

Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas