Researchers at the University of
California at Los Angeles (UCLA) have developed stem cells that can
kill HIV in mice.
UCLA researchers announced that they
have genetically engineered stem cells to kill HIV, the virus that
causes AIDS, in a study published April 12 in the journal PloS
“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, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of
hematology and oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at
UCLA and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute, said
in a press release.
Working on the previous finding that
“killer” T cells are able to destroy HIV-infected cells but do
not exist in sufficient quantities to fight off infection, scientists
cloned parts of the T cell and used this to genetically engineer
human blood stem cells.
The engineered stem cells, implanted in
mice, “developed into a large population of mature,
multi-functional HIV-specific CD8 cells that could specifically
target cells containing HIV proteins.”
Researchers also found that cells must
be matched to an individual “in much the same way an organ is
matched to a transplant patient.”
“We believe that this is the first
step in developing a more aggressive approach in correcting the
defects in the human T cell responses that allow HIV to persist in
infected people,” Kitchen said.