An area which has received a great deal of attention in the search for a cure and for improved treatment for HIV is gene therapy. In 1995 there were 67 research projects involving gene therapy in some form being supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases, NIAID. Gene therapy is an ever growing and advancing field of study in the medical field and has led to some fantastic procedures and advancements in medicine.
The general theme of gene therapy for the treatment of HIV involves the insertion of a gene which confers resistance to HIV into a human cell followed by the infusion of these cells into an HIV positive individual. The hope is that these altered cells will assist in limiting the spread of HIV within the body and perhaps slow the progression of the disease. Further understanding of how the virus interacts with other molecules and organisms within the body may lead to improved treatments and increases the chances of discovering a cure. For more information on hiv insurance, go to http://www.alllife.co.za
At least five gene therapy trials were approved or were in the approval process by the Food and Drug Administration of the USA.
o A study into the effectiveness of the insertion of genetic code for the production of ribozymes into the CD4+ T cells targeted by the virus. The theory was that since ribozymes are capable of cutting the genetic material of the HIV virus they would be capable of limiting reproduction by preventing the infection of new cells. o A study into the effectiveness of a modified version of the HIV created protein known as Rev as a competitor to the normal Rev protein. The modified protein was designed to prevent the killing and depletion of the immune cells. o A study into the effectiveness of infusions of CD8+ T cells grown from the patient’s own CD8+ T cells as a method of bolstering the immune system. o Two studies into the effects of transferring genetically altered cells from an uninfected monozygotic twin to the infected monozygotic twin.
Further gene therapy studies are proposed. Some will involve the use of other harmless viruses as well as non viral agents to insert protective genes into the cells of the patient undergoing treatment. All of these projects will receive support from NIAID as well as assistance where possible with regards to grant applications and guidance for conducting the actual research to the expedition of preclinical research to human studies.
It is only through research that more can be learned about HIV and new methods for the effective treatment of the virus. It is possible that with sufficient research being conducted a cure will emerge though that day has yet to come. To date, the variety of studies which are being conducted, not only into gene therapy but into other avenues as well, have led to information and conclusions which have led to improvements in the treatment of HIV positive individuals as well as new medications which have proven useful in these treatment regimes.