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Author Topic: Can stem cells be used to treat HIV?  (Read 10779 times)

JAMES ACHILLES

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Can stem cells be used to treat HIV?
« on: 07/02/2009 12:30:02 »
JAMES ACHILLES  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi scientists,

Thanks for a brilliant podcast, I happened upon a link about a study on stem cell research and HIV. What do you think?

many thanks

james, liverpool

What do you think?


 

Offline DrN

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Can stem cells be used to treat HIV?
« Reply #1 on: 14/02/2009 22:13:43 »
In my opinion, unlikely.

Quote
In a bone marrow transplants, a patientís own blood-forming stem cells are largely obliterated and then replaced. The painful procedure renders patients exhausted and extremely vulnerable to infection until the new stem cells take up residence in the bone marrow and restore the destroyed immune system.

I found a case where a stem cell (bone marrow) transplantation did appear to suppress HIV levels in the blood of the recipient patient, but the donor appears to have had a gene that conferred resistance to HIV, and so the effect is presumably due to this rather than the transplant.

The point of stem cell therapy is to replace lost or 'bad' cells in the body, and so has potential in the treatment of conditions in which tissues or organs degenerate, I can think of multiple sclerosis as one example (stem cells would aim to replace the myelin surrounding nerve cells). However, HIV is a virus that attacks the body - you can replace the damaged tissue all you want, but if the virus is still there, it will keep on doing damage. As alluded to above, the only potential means of using stem cell therapy against HIV that I can think of is to transplant white blood cells that are resistant to the HIV virus.
 

Offline DrN

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Can stem cells be used to treat HIV?
« Reply #2 on: 15/02/2009 22:49:34 »
I've just seen an interesting article about gene therapy for HIV in the new scientist:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16601-gene-therapy-for-hiv-shows-promise.html

It discusses a clinical trial using gene therapy against HIV, and found that it has potential, but is not yet as good as anti-retroviral drugs. The gene therapy targets the white blood cells and makes them resistant to HIV viral attack.

This builds on what I was saying previously - the only reason stem cell therapy worked in the case study was that the white blood cells were already naturally resistant.
 

Offline TonyCap

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Can stem cells be used to treat HIV?
« Reply #3 on: 16/02/2009 09:19:07 »
We're not there yet, but in about 5 years you never know...
 

Offline DrN

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Can stem cells be used to treat HIV?
« Reply #4 on: 16/02/2009 21:53:01 »
True. I'm naturally skeptical, mainly because I know how difficult these things are, and how variable the results can be when applied to cultured cells, let alone human beings. But scientific developments amaze me all the time, perhaps they'll perfect the gene therapy, and use stem cells to deliver it!
 

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Can stem cells be used to treat HIV?
« Reply #4 on: 16/02/2009 21:53:01 »

 

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