Leukemia cured... with HIV

"Treatment exceeds wildest expectations"

In the research published Wednesday, doctors at the University of Pennsylvania say the treatment made the most common type of leukemia completely disappear in two of the patients and reduced it by 70 percent in the third. In each of the patients as much as five pounds of cancerous tissue completely melted away in a few weeks, and a year later it is still gone.

In the Penn experiment, the researchers removed certain types of white blood cells that the body uses to fight disease from the patients. Using a modified, harmless version of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, they inserted a series of genes into the white blood cells.  These were designed to make to cells target and kill the cancer cells.  After growing a large batch of the genetically engineered white blood cells, the doctors injected them back into the patients.

As the white cells killed the cancer cells, the patients experienced the fevers and aches and pains that one would expect when the body is fighting off an infection, but beyond that the side effects have been minimal.

Previously, previously.

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10 Responses:

  1. Positive news network.

  2. Nick Lamb says:

    Let's see if your Lazyweb can do better than every news outlet I've seen this reported by and actually link the paper.

  3. Nick, the article JWZ links to here does contain a link to the paper.

  4. imgx64 says:

    Curing disease X with disease Y sounds like the beginning of more than one Zombie film/game.

  5. sclatter says:

    I think it's funny that the article focuses on the fact that they are using HIV as a vector, and not the fact that this is gene therapy. The fact that they are using HIV is sort of beside the point in my mind. Retroviruses have always been used in gene therapy, because what they do is insert their genetic material into the host genome. That can be hijacked to insert the gene of your heart's desire. Each virus has its own insertion preferences though, and some are more likely to cause cancer than others. Yep, your cancer treatment could give you (some other kind of) cancer.

    I think the point about how hard it is to get funding is worth emphasizing. With grant pay-lines down to as low as 15%, that means only the very safest bets get funded. The "haha only serious" joke is that you have to do the work first, then get the grant. The US government funds the vast majority of medical research, and with the current situation in D.C. things are pretty bleak. You want the exciting, ground-breaking research to get done? Call your congressperson and tell them NIH funding is important to you.

  6. Leonardo Herrera says:

    Using a modified, harmless version of HIV

    They always say that.

  7. Amber Steele says:

    Wow; I heard about this on NPR last week, but missed the part where they started with HIV!