HIV resistant cells found

Jul 012003
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

Researchers at CSU and the City of Hope cancer center in California have successfully created HIV resistant blood producing cells thus finding new possible treatments for HIV.

The researchers get stem cells into the right environment so that they will differentiate into t-cells and microphages. At CSU, researchers have implanted human tissue into mice. They then put the stem cells into the mouse body so that it will differentiate, said Ramesh Akkina, a professor of microbiology, immunology and pathology at CSU and principle investigator.

Once the t-cells and microphages are created they are infected with small interfering RNA (siRNA) and HIV cells. The researchers have found that the t-cells and microphages then became resistant to the HIV they infected them with.

SiRNA recruits a protein that cuts the target RNA and destroys it, said John Rossi, chair of the division of Molecular Biology at the City of Hope’s Beckman Research Institute and co-investigator. The target RNA is the one needing to be killed, such as HIV.

“It leaves the small RNA intact and then can recycle so it can do this multiple times,” Rossi said.

The siRNA cells are produced naturally by the body and provide little probability for any negative effects, Rossi said.

“Anytime you can knock out a bad gene or a bad gene product this is a good to do so,” Rossi said. “People are already starting to think about using it for Hepatitis C and A, cancer, genetic diseases.”

The next step for researchers at CSU is to translate their research directly into human trials, Akinna said. They hope to get going on clinical trials next year, as they are waiting for the funding from the National Institute of Health. The entire project has been funded by NIH grants, Akinna said.

The next step for researchers is “to try and get a complex of a few of these SI genes into the same vector, Rossi said, “that way we don’t run the risk of having viral resistance.”

There are four researchers on the team at CSU. The main scientist for that team is Akhil Banerjea.

The City of Hope Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, according to their Web site

Some students at CSU support the research they are seeing. “I am in favor of the research right now for curing disease,” said Rob Reynolds, senior economics major. He says that later it depends on how the research is being applied.

The study will be published in the July issues of Molecular Therapy.

Collegian reporter Shandra Jordan contributed to this story.

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