Can genetically modified viruses be used to treat HIV?

24 October 2010

Question

Can genetically modified viruses be used to treat HIV?

Answer

We put this question to Peter Kwong from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Maryland...

Peter - There are certainly things that one can do for example, genetically modify viruses as vectors for vaccines. So we can actually use viruses as tools in vaccination to induce the particular immune response that helps prevent the disease.

Chris - There was one story I saw of a group in America who were making conditionally replicating forms of HIV where they had a modified virus into which they had inserted the envelope, the surface coat protein gene, that then they put the mirror image of that gene in. So, when they infected people with this virus, if their own cells then got infected with normal HIV, it made and mobilised an anti-HIV virus which then went off around the body and protected other cells. So that maybe, I suppose, one other approach to this.

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