Elisabeth Manville
Apr 13, 2012

Engineered stem cells seek out and kill the HIV in mice

A research team from UCLA has demonstrated that stem cells that were genetically engineered into HIV-fighting cells can attack HIV cells in living organisms. Previously, the team took the T cells that help fight infection from an individual with HIV. They then identified and cloned the T cell receptor, which guides the T cell to recognize and kill HIV-infected cells. Using the cloned receptor, they genetically engineered human blood cells. Now they have conducted tests on mice that demonstrate that the number of CD4 ‘helper’ T cells, which become depleted as a result of HIV infection, increased, while levels of HIV in the blood decreased, when the genetically engineered cells were introduced. "We believe that this study lays the groundwork for the potential use of this type of an approach in combating HIV infection in infected individuals, in hopes of eradicating the virus from the body," lead investigator Scott G. Kitchen said.