Thursday, December 1, 2011

Scientists Use Gene Therapy to Prevent Aids in Mice

Nobel Laureate David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology published a study on Wednesday describing how by inserting a gene into the leg muscles of mice (who were bred to be susceptible to HIV), the mice created antibodies that were able to protect them against exposure to HIV. While 1 nanogram of the virus is usually enough to infect a mouse with HIV, these mice were administered up to 100 nanograms of the virus, significantly more than a human would ever experience, and still withstand it. This technique was first used in 2009 to protect monkeys against the spread of a similar disease as HIV, yet only transmittable to monkeys.

Testing will commence soon on humans soon. If there proves to be no dangerous side-effects, as there is no cure yet for AIDs, this preventative gene therapy may be the new way to at least prevent the spread. While scientists have found many effective antibodies against different mutations of the AIDs virus, they have so far not been able to make the human body produce them. So while the potential gene therapy solution seems promising, scientists must proceed with caution. With gene therapy, once the gene is inserted, if there are complications there is no way to switch it off.


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