Theophrastus Bombastus von Hochenheim, genannt „Paracelsus“ hätte an diesem Versuch zur Heilung von AIDS wohl die reine Freude gehabt. Aber die Dinge sind noch nicht praxisreif. Wiederum scheint Frankreich und das Institut „Paseure“ die Nase vorn zu haben aber „Uncle Sam“ ist dicht auf den Fersen. Siehe: “
A Way to Fight the AIDS Virus With a Virus.
Controlling the spread of HIV, the viral precursor to AIDS, is daunting but
essential to getting the as-yet incurable epidemic under control. UC San Diego
biochemist Leor Weinberger came up with a novel approach to the problem: he and
his colleagues at San Diego and UCLA have engineered a particle that piggybacks
on the virus as it moves between individuals and then competes with it once
they’re both inside a cell.
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In simulations, the researchers found that, over 30
years, these therapeutic interfering particles (TIPS) could reduce the number of
people in Sub-Saharan Africa infected with HIV
to one-thirtieth of the current level. With about 33.3 million people infected
worldwide in 2009 and 68 percent of all people living with HIV located in
Sub-Saharan Africa — according to the World Health Organization
— this new technique’s potential is tremendous.
TIPS are made from harmless fragments of HIV, omitting some key pieces of
genetic information like how to self-replicate. In order to survive then, TIPS
need to use DNA from the actual virus to copy themselves, meaning they cannot
live on their own without the virus. The particles also contain a few gene
sequences engineered to inhibit HIV and, because they derive from it, both
viruses use some of the same proteins and must compete for them once inside a
cell. This makes replication harder for the HIV. And since TIPS can last for
years in a body, they might also help keep AIDS away for an extra 5 or 10
The most rampant-spreaders of HIV tend to be intravenous drug users and sex
workers, who are often more difficult to reach for prevention and drug
treatment, leading to their disproportionately higher rates of infection. TIPS,
with its latent virus-on-virus method of attack, could be a phenomenal way to
address HIV infection in this group. Beyond simulations and cell cultures
though, TIPS has not yet been tested in humans, though.
Weinberger is speaking to bioethicists and working
carefully with his colleagues to asses the risk of using TIPS, since no one
knows how these viral particles will evolve and mix with other genetic material
once they’re let loose. However in the UCSD
news release, he did mention that similar transmissible disease-fighting
methods, like the oral polio vaccine, are already in use. As the release puts
it, “Public health officials see this transmission as a benefit; it is one
reason why this form of polio vaccine was chosen for the worldwide effort to
eradicate the disease.”
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If SLC Puck taught me anything, it
was that it’s hard to fight the system from without. TIPS — and perhaps other
engineered viruses in the future — could be modern medicine’s way of getting
inside an epidemic at the genetic level.
The original paper, published in PLoS
Compuational Biology on March 17th is here.
Image: 3d4Medical.com/Corbis „