Could we fight HIV with new Car-T therapy?

The same kind of DNA tinkering that produced the first FDA-approved gene therapy for cancer has shown hints of suppressing and even eradicating HIV infection in lab animals, scientists have reported. Although the study was small—it tested the genetically engineered “CAR” cells on only two monkeys as well as on cells growing in lab dishes—it suggests that after 30 years of fruitless efforts to come up with an AIDS vaccine there might be a wholly new way to get the immune system to fight HIV infection.

To create T cells able to fight HIV, scientists genetically engineered not T cells themselves but stem cells that produce both T cells and other blood cells. The genetic engineering gave the “hematopoietic stem cells” and all of their descendants an HIV-specific CAR: one part of the CAR (called CD4) hunts down and binds the AIDS-causing virus, while an additional surface molecule (called C46) interferes with HIV’s ability to enter a T cell.

The engineered T cells not only destroyed HIV-infected cells in both lab dishes and macaques—they also persisted for more than two years. That suggests that they can “provide long-lasting HIV-killing,” said immunologist Scott Kitchen of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who led the study published in PLOS Pathogens.

Read full, original post: Genetically Modified T Cells Might Help Fight HIV

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