A breakthrough in AIDS treatment?

Researchers at the University of Tel Aviv have developed a new method of fighting the HI virus, which could lead to the development of a type of vaccine against AIDS. The researchers’ study was published last week in the journal Nature. “We have developed an innovative treatment that can defeat the virus with a single injection and has the potential to significantly improve patients,” said study director Adi Barzel.

ANTIBODY So far, there are quite effective ways to alleviate the symptoms of immunodeficiency in the affected, but no cure. HI virus attacks the body’s white blood cells and weakens the immune system.

Researchers in Tel Aviv, in collaboration with other researchers from Israel and the United States, have now genetically modified type B white blood cells to secrete anti-HIV antibodies. The method has already proven itself in animal experiments.

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During treatment, patients are injected with these blood cells. They are designed to stimulate the immune system to make antibodies and thus fight viruses, bacteria and other intruders.

ARMS RACE When genetically engineered B cells encounter the HI virus in the body, B cells would be stimulated to divide and multiply. “We are using the real causes of the disease to fight it,” says Barzel. “As the virus changes, the B cells change accordingly to fight it, so we’ve created the first drug that can develop in the body and defeat the viruses in ‘arms races’.”

The scientist further said that the antibodies were produced from the blood and ensured that they could actually neutralize the HI virus in a laboratory dish. “All test animals treated in this way responded and had high levels of the required antibody in their blood,” Barzel continues.

He now hopes the technology will lead to the production of a cure for AIDS and other infectious diseases in the coming years, he added. The findings of Israeli scientists could also be useful for cancer treatment. mth