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Gene Therapy Approach 'Completely' Protects Mice From HIV Infection

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the earning-their-cheese dept.

Medicine 190

Pierre Bezukhov writes "Scientists from the California Institute of Technology have come up with a gene therapy approach that has proven effective in protecting mice (with humanized immune systems) against HIV infections. They used a genetically altered virus to infect muscles cells and deliver DNA codes of potent antibodies isolated from the blood of human HIV victims (abstract). The muscle cells then began to manufacture the antibodies in quantities that proved 'completely protective' against HIV infection. By contrast, traditional vaccines have not worked against HIV, as scientists have failed to find a molecule that induces the immune system to produce enough potent antibodies. The difficulties stem from the fact that HIV disguises some of its external structures from the antibodies."

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190 comments

Gay Mice (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237516)

Remember AIDS = Anally Injected Death Sentence.

It's as if nature doesn't think being a queer is equal to being straight. Oh you PC types will just love that. Have fun you faggots!

Re:Gay Mice (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237650)

And this of course explains why lesbians such as myself have such low STD rates, oftentimes lower even than straight women. Because God hates queers.

Newsflash, genius: MEN are promiscuous and dumb when it comes to taking risks, so MEN have higher STD rates, and when there's TWO men, it all goes out the window. This isn't a gay thing so much as a male thing.

Re:Gay Mice (2, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237822)

Or it could have something to do with the methodology of intercourse for lesbians. Not so much anal tearing going on there, for instance.

Re:Gay Mice (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239260)

Or: Always thoroughly clean the double-ended dildo after usage.
Or: never swap sides on the double-ended dildo...

Re:Gay Mice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238618)

Black women have higher std rates than straight men.

Re:Gay Mice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239096)

Dear moron,

Have you considered that semen injected into the vagina, and especially the anus is a good disease vector, and saliva rubbed around the vulva, or vaginal juices in the mouth is a rather poor disease vector?

Sincerely,

The non man-hating population of the world.

Re:Gay Mice (5, Interesting)

gyaku_zuki (1778282) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237984)

I love how you decided to keep this comment anonymous. 'It's as if' you are scared to actually back up your opinion. Seriously, in the 'playground' version of being a fag, you are the biggest one I've seen.

Gravity - 'It's as if nature doesn't think' humans should fly, but we do (planes).

Fun fact - nature isn't CONSCIOUS. It doesn't really give a crap what you think or do. Nature didn't wake up one day and think 'hey, I think I hate queers today!'. Unless you're religious, then of course why I even waste my breath is beyond me.

Re:Gay Mice (2)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238288)

... then of course why I even waste my breath is beyond me.

I'm guessing that the Slashdot post isn't a big breath-user, but your fingers probably need the exercise, anyway.

In any case, your post made me smile, so I think it was worthwhile.

Re:Gay Mice (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239430)

Fun fact - nature isn't CONSCIOUS.

Speculatively, for us to contemplate whether Nature is conscious is a bit like one of your cells in your body wondering (in whatever form, probably not language) if it's part of something conscious. It is, but the nature of that consciousness is probably not something a single cell could understand. For that cell, it effectively doesn't exist even though the rest of us can plainly see you walking and talking. That cell might as well focus on its day-to-day metabolic activity and forget the question that it probably couldn't formulate and couldn't answer, but that does not make the question invalid. For the cell, the answer is "yes, you are". For us, we don't know.

Those who actually understand scientific skepticism would have to say "we don't know/not enough data to draw a conclusion". They'd then move on to put their attention elsewhere into things that can be falsified.

Those who are smarmy and like to hear themselves talk especially when it's to tell someone else "you're wrong" would tend to say "it definitely isn't and I have no burden of proof" even though that is in fact a claim. Face it, you misunderstand positivism.

Honestly, you're an arrogant little shit who chose a ranting foaming-at-the-mouth "god hates fags" type of AC to respond to because you want to take an easy cheap shot at a target no one will sympathize with. Same reason you slam religious people, it's trendy to hate on them even though many of them keep their personal beliefs quite separate from their scientific studies and business careers. I know people like you. You're very brave behind a keyboard when you expect no real opposition. You're a complete pussy every other time, when you stand a real risk of failure/rejection/being wrong. Enjoy your few minutes of pleasure, I suppose.

Re:Gay Mice (5, Funny)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239474)

This is *great* news for gay mice. Ever try to put on one of those tiny little condoms without tearing it with your claws?

Oh internets. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237522)

is it wrong i read such a serious article.... (and wanted to post FIRST!)

Re:Oh internets. (3, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239384)

Hmm.....

It would be sweet if AIDS were no longer a threat.

They day they announce the cure.....I'm guessing if you can't get laid that day...you're never gonna get laid.

Billions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237554)

Billions and Billions of dollars spent looking for a cure or vaccine for AIDS so that people can go around fucking random strangers in the ass without protection and without having to worry.

Re:Billions (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237640)

You have a problem against this why?

Re:Billions (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237792)

It's partly my money asshole.

I'm much rather they stop putting things where they don't belong and then whining that they are going to die a long painful death. Even monkeys figure out that actions have consequences.

Re:Billions (1)

mathmathrevolution (813581) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239486)

I'm much rather they stop putting things where they don't belong

Are you literally suggesting that a vagina is an inappropriate place to put a penis? I'm guessing your mommy never gave you "the talk".

Re:Billions (4, Insightful)

mathmathrevolution (813581) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237724)

Are you from 1982?

Most people who get AIDS today are young heterosexual females. They are not "fucking random strangers in the ass without protection."

AIDS is a disease that any sexually active person can get, even if they use protection. I don't sleep around a lot, but I have sex and unprotected oral sex. Why do you think my partners and I deserve to die? Because we are violating your personal moral code? Or because you are driven by resentment of your more sexually successful peers?

No... they are taking it in the ass (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237812)

Lets face it, there once was a big scare about aids and then it dropped off to the point that a lot of people believe the weirdest things and fuck around and with no protection.

It isn't just AIDS, there are a lot of STD's and some of them are way easier to catch then AIDS and have a devestating impact on women especially as it makes them infertile.

It is good news that a vaccine MIGHT someday work on humans but in the meantime, it doesn't hurt to be a bit more careful. Just because one day they might make perfect safe cars, you don't skip putting on your helmet when you go drive a motor cycle in heavy traffic and icing conditions right? No. Unlike you... I am not a fool. (Yes, I am aware of the irony, that is the point really)

Re:No... they are taking it in the ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238358)

personally i would happily not wear a helmet on my bike but in the uk they are mandatory

Re:No... they are taking it in the ass (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238438)

I'm sure I'm missing something here since you mention there's irony floating about, but I don't quite follow why you feel justified in insinuating that the parent poster is a fool. In explicitly stating that protection was not used for oral sex, the implication is that is used for a modest amount of sleeping around. Is it the sleeping around or the lack of protection during oral sex that you consider foolish? Excluding chocolate flavoured condoms, I’m not sure why anyone would be interested in protected oral sex anyway. Also while I’m no expert on AIDS and peoples perception of it, your initial comment

Lets face it, there once was a big scare about aids and then it dropped off to the point that a lot of people believe the weirdest things and fuck around and with no protection.

seems to be just your experience of the phenomenon. I’m sure the practise is widespread, but I personally don’t know anyone would has unprotected sex outside of a long term relationship.

Re:No... they are taking it in the ass (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239370)

With Oral sex the risk of contracting AIDS is low. It's other STDs like Syphilis (curable if diagnosed early enough), genital warts (no cure), Herpes (no cure), etc. that should warrant some kind of protection. With herpes the person doesn't even need to show signs of being infected to spread it. Most wont kill you but getting outbreaks around the mouth would be very unsightly.

Re:No... they are taking it in the ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239530)

Pleased to meet you. Hope you guess my name.....

Re:No... they are taking it in the ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238646)

It isn't just AIDS, there are a lot of STD's and some of them are way easier to catch then AIDS and have a devestating impact on women especially as it makes them infertile.

Yeah that would be terrible because we sure are low on humans! Stupid humans, they never breed enough. Just like pandas.

Or y'know those infertile women who love children so much could find a child whose lonely and needs a good home with loving parents and adopt, saving that child from a life of despair and feeling unwanted.

Is there an STD for men that makes them permanently infertile but doesn't do any other damage? Sign me up! I've tried doctor-shopping for a vasectomy. You see I don't want children. I am prepared to commit to that decision. I don't care if other condescending people think I'll eventually "wise up" and "see it their way" and change my mind. I am willing to take that risk. You just wouldn't believe how hard it is to get a vasectomy when you don't have children. Apparently you need about 3-5 bastard kids you can't afford to feed before they'll consider it. We really have no respect for personal responsibility in this culture and I'm sick of it.

Back to AIDS, I am sorry but you can make decisions in a way that you are almost certainly never going to catch AIDS. Not having sex with people you don't really know is a big one. Is that really so absurd, wanting to get to know someone a little bit before banging them? Meeting some stranger at a bar and fucking them the same day you met them is risky behavior. I'm sure it's quite a thrill but you're stupid if you can't understand it won't work out the way you like 100% of the time. That was true before AIDS. It'll be true after AIDS is eradicated polio-style.

Some of you hope for vaccines and miracle cures. You will probably get them, eventually, as medicine advances. The rest of us use a form of common sense and personal responsibility that looks a little like religious morality but it isn't about prudishness, it's about protecting yourself. It's about how much easier it is to protect yourself when you're not a total slave to momentary pleasures (nice as they are) and can say "no" to them when someone else wants to do it the stupid way.

Re:No... they are taking it in the ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238968)

"...that a lot of people believe the weirdest things and fuck around and with no protection."

That's because Jesus loves them.

Re:No... they are taking it in the ass (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239424)

Just because one day they might make perfect safe cars, you don't skip putting on your helmet when you go drive a motor cycle

Worst. Analogy. Ever. What does car safety have to do with motorbike helmets??

Re:No... they are taking it in the ass (1)

lifejunkie (785838) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239598)

Even though they may have cured AIDS (car) there are still other STDs to worry about (motorcycle).

Re:Billions (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238046)

There's only one sure-fire way to be sure you won't contract HIV / AIDS sexually: Be spectacular in bed.

If you are a a Gold Medal-winning bedroom gymnast, your partner will never need to sleep around for satisfaction! Everyone's a winner.

Re:Billions (1)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238122)

[Citation needed]

Moreover, if most is raw numbers than divide by about 20 to get equivalent per capita numbers.

Re:Billions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239180)

AIDS is a disease that any sexually active person can get, even if they use protection. I don't sleep around a lot, but I have sex and unprotected oral sex. Why do you think my partners and I deserve to die?

Because you're a bunch of queers.

No About You (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239330)

It's not about whether you deserve to die or not. It's about whether billions of dollars should be spent looking for a cure for a disease who's cause is well known and easily prevented. Don't go sticking things where the don't belong. That includes someone's ass or your neighbor's pussy. It's too bad that you preferred sexual activity of choice carries such a high rick of infection. But frankly, it's not my problem any more than some wino drinking himself to death is my problem.

You bitch and moan about moral codes, but ignore that fact that the rules embodied in those codes make a hell of a lot of sense.

Then you crow about your sexual success...so fucking a bunch of skanks and behaving like a dog is success? No Thanks...although Charlie Sheen would be proud of you no doubt.

Re:Billions (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239496)

That is factually wrong.

Gay and bisexual men remain the population most heavily affected by HIV in the United States. CDC estimates MSM represent approximately 2% of the US population, but accounted for more than 50% of all new HIV infections annually from 2006 to 2009 –56% in 2006 (27,000), 58% in 2007 (32,300), 56% in 2008 (26,900) and 61% (29,300) in 2009.

Source [cdc.gov]

Re:Billions (1)

DRBivens (148931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237752)

Yeah? How about those who caught it from a blood transfusion? Or the people who made the mistake of sharing a syringe? Or those who were infected during plain, ol' heterosexual sex?

Sure, doing IV drugs is stupid, but it doesn't rise to a level deserving a death sentence.

Besides, if being stupid was a punishable by death, you wouldn't have been here to write what you did.

Ignorant moron.

Re:Billions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239104)

Or the people who made the mistake of sharing a syringe?

That doesn't belong up there with the other two.

You mean to tell me there are adult people today, in first-world nations, who don't understand that sharing a syringe means exposure to every single pathogen and blood-borne disease the other user(s) have? They cannot put two and two together and see that the needle goes through the skin and into a blood vessel?
I am so fucking tired of this movement that really got started during the 70s. The movement is all about taking adult people who make stupid, risky decisions and then calling them victims when they suffer in any way. You really wouldn't want the kind of society this is creating. Some adult people do stupid things. The only concern should be making sure that non-participants who didn't do $stupid_thing don't suffer, that the consequences are confined to the willful participants.

Stop putting them on pedestals and feeling sorry for them. Seriously. The only way to protect everybody from everything is to destroy all freedoms. Even that probably won't work (prisoners have little/no freedom and they still manage to smuggle drugs, weapons, and cellphones into prisons). Grow a pair and drop this bullshit before it's too late.

Re:Billions (4, Insightful)

gyaku_zuki (1778282) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237912)

Jeez - and here I thought Slashdot to be a haven from this sort of nonsense. Seriously, you and your fellow 'Anonymous Coward's should have your human license revoked.

Re:Billions (1)

EW87 (951411) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239168)

Billions and Billions of dollars spent looking for a cure or vaccine for AIDS so that people can go around fucking random strangers in the ass without protection and without having to worry.

Babies who get HIV from breast milk are appalled at you sir, appalled. Infants. Appalled.

Re:Billions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239666)

Common argument for many people who want to do stupid things without consequences...their actions cause pain and suffering to innocent people so we are obligated to make their actions consequence free.

"I have 15 kids and can't feed them...I should get more money from the government...don't you want them to be fed?"

"I'm a addict and don't want to change. So a mug people and kill to get money for my next fix...shouldn't you provide the drugs to me for free so I don't do that?"

"I was told to evacuate because a hurricane was coming, but I didn't. Now I'm sitting on a roof with me kids waiting for others to risk their lives to save me."

"I slept with some scumbag guy, who I know sleeps around, and got AIDS. Then, I breast fed the baby he gave me and he got AIDS. You really should make it so people can sleep around without getting AIDS."

How to conduct human trials (4, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237586)

How do you conduct a proper trial for HIV? "Here, this is either a drug that will work, won't work, or a placebo which works a surprising amount of time. At best you have a 50/50 shot of getting HIV" Who is going to participate in that trial?

Re:How to conduct human trials (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237662)

I believe HIV trials are usually conducted using volunteers that knowingly engage in high-risk behaviours (needle drugs, anonymous sex/prostitution etc) and the effectiveness is inferred statistically.

Re:How to conduct human trials (2, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239694)

I believe HIV trials are usually conducted using volunteers that knowingly engage in high-risk behaviours

So, the trials for this are going down in San Francisco?

Re:How to conduct human trials (1)

Pierre Bezukhov (1866830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237686)

actually, it's immunization. i don't know if it works on existing patients

Re:How to conduct human trials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237882)

If it can trigger a better immune system response to the virus, it could at least help as the problem with HIV is the fact that our immune system doesn't fight it particularly well. Of course that assume the person is still in early stages and their immune system hasn't been damaged too badly yet by the virus. Otherwise, yeah, it won't work if you don't have an army to teach what to fight.

Re:How to conduct human trials (3, Interesting)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237816)

You'll never get a proper scientific trial. There are whole areas of medicine we only know because evil regimes like the Nazi Germany conducted experiments without care.

But you can certainly make a best effort. Inject 1000 random people with either drug, placebo...

They do whatever they do. They can engage in risky behavior. They can wear condoms. Whatever is. As an experiment, you just assume their behavior is randomly distributed among the 1000 people.

At the end of the trial, you call them back and see what percentage has AIDS/HIV.
If all those who received the drug don't have it, and SOME of the ones without it did have HIV/AIDS, then you can say there is a high probability the drug works.

As I said, statistically you just have to assume that behaviors were distributed evenly among the 1000 person sample.

If no one comes back with HIV/AIDS... by some miracle that 1000 person trial... everyone suddenly behaves nicely and stops having unprotected sex, no one gets raped... well then the experiment is a failure, but at least 1000 people are not living a good life... so it's a human success.

Re:How to conduct human trials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238108)

Why is that not a proper scientific trial? You made a hypothesis, designed an experiment, randomly changed the experimental for some, and observed the result.

Do you think it only counts if we also inject them all with HIV? That's ridiculous (i.e. worthy of ridicule).

Re:How to conduct human trials (1)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238870)

Scientific method, when people's behaviors are involved, has always been a touchy subject. There's a whole set of problems that you have to take into account, e.g. self-fulfilling prophecies and the Pigmalion Effect.

Re:How to conduct human trials (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238268)

"There are whole areas of medicine we only know because evil regimes like the Nazi Germany conducted experiments without care."

Tragically that includes the US Government, three years _after_ it had beaten the evil Nazis:

"President Obama this afternoon spoke with Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom to “express his deep regret” and “extend an apology to all those infected” following the revelation that the U.S. Public Health Service conducted a study from 1946 to 1948 in which near 700 prisoners, soldiers and patients with emotional and mental problems were purposefully infected with syphilis. The study also was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, a forerunner of the Pan American Health Organization, and the Guatemalan government."

From http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2010/10/president-obama-apologizes-to-guatemalan-president-for-shocking-tragic-reprehensible-syphilis-study/ [go.com]

So much for high horses...

Re:How to conduct human trials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238726)

There are whole areas of medicine we only know because evil regimes like the Nazi Germany conducted experiments without care.

Did anything important or useful come out of those Nazi experiments? What areas of medicine are you talking about?

Easy (2)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237854)

You are thinking about proving it works. This won't be tested at first. What will be tested at first on humans whether the innoculation itself doesn't kill you. After that it is a matter of simple statistics. As long as the shot doesn't kill you, the rest don't matter. Simple record the patients success at not getting HIV versus non-innoculated patients.

They are NOT going to shoot up humans with AIDS just for a test. Well. Not officially anyway. This is the medical industry after all. Nazi's would gag.

Re:How to conduct human trials (4, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237870)

There have already been trials. You give the treatment to one group of at-risk individuals and a placebo to another group. You make sure that they understand that they aren't to rely on this as a cure/certain protection. Then you follow them over the years and see what the infection rate is. If 30% of the control group is infected with HIV at the end and only 5% of the treatment group is infected, you've got a good result. If they are both about the same, your treatment doesn't work.

Re:How to conduct human trials (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237904)

sed -e 's/HIV/small pox/g'

This would not be the first time we developed a vaccine against a deadly disease.

Re:How to conduct human trials (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238290)

The smallpox vaccine was tested by intentionally exposing people to smallpox. The medical profession tends to frown on that kind of thing these days.

Re:How to conduct human trials (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237930)

As I understand it, the way to do a trial with this is to try it in an area where AIDS infection/transmission is common. For instance, test it on a group of prostitutes who don't have AIDS. When you come back a few years later, you check to see if any of your group have acquired the disease, and how their infection rate compares to others in their cohort.
 
Also, it's not uncommon to consent to acquiring a disease in the name of research (though they're not typically the lethal variety). I have a couple friends who work at Walter Reed designing malaria vaccines. If they ever feel like taking a couple weeks off, they consent to testing out one of the vaccines (which almost never work). They temporarily get malaria out of the deal, but they also get some time away from work, a few thousand dollars, and some free medical care.

Re:How to conduct human trials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237970)

Basically, you find a bunch of people at risk for the disease, tell them you have something you think might work, but might also cause harm. and ask for their informed consent to participate in a placebo-blinded trial. You're not injecting anyone with HIV; you're just offering experimental protection to some and not to others, and they are just as exposed to HIV as they would have been anyway in the course of their lives.

A similar study for Tenofovir, which fully explains the study design: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/329/5996/1168.short

Re:How to conduct human trials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238068)

They usually give the vaccine to people in general population at higher risk of getting HIV and follow them over time. The same went for other STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) vaccine trials. In this case, however, the unpredictable implications are... unpredictable... Messing with the immune system is not a joke and there are still many immune mediated disorders that we do not understand.

Re:How to conduct human trials (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238158)

You take a bunch of people who belong to a known group with a known average risk. Preferably high risk, because then you need fewer subjects. You give half the the treatment (it's not really a vaccine) and half the placebo. Then you followup and compare the infection rate in the treatment group with that of the placebo group and the known average infection rate.

But in this case they're using mice.

Re:How to conduct human trials (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238314)

How do you conduct a proper trial for HIV? "Here, this is either a drug that will work, won't work, or a placebo which works a surprising amount of time. At best you have a 50/50 shot of getting HIV" Who is going to participate in that trial?

I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure this work on a voluntary basis targeted on those who don't have enough time left in their life to die from the HIV.

So basically, I'm pretty sure they'll ask elders. HIV isn't really a death sentence anymore unless you get it really young. And with all the latest development, I'm pretty sure we'll find a cure (not a vaccine, a "real" cure") in the next decade.

Re:How to conduct human trials (1)

cpricejones (950353) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238680)

Sometimes, the trials are conducted with people who are currently on HAART (anti-HIV therapy). Their HAART regimens are ended, and the new regimen is given to them. My understanding is that the HIV-infected community is very very understanding--they know that the only chance for a real solution is to volunteer.

An alternative scenario is to conduct the trial in a high risk population, such as sex workers or people living in sub-Saharan Africa. If you treat enough people, there will be a portion who become HIV-positive during the trial, and you can compare the control/test groups. If the drug is really working well, the study will be halted prematurely because it's unethical not to give the control group the treatment (also an incentive for someone to volunteer themselves when they don't know what they are getting, placebo or test).

Re:How to conduct human trials (1)

internetdarwin (669976) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239028)

In those cases, and someone correct me if I'm wrong here, you don't actually go around infecting people to see if it worked. You give a large sample population the drug/placebo then follow them over time. If you have enough people, statistically speaking someone is bound to contract HIV. So you just compare the % of people that contracted HIV over time that had the drug vs the people who had the placebo. These types of trials take a long time.

Can't Wait For The Peer Review (1)

DRBivens (148931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237632)

I wanna see some peer-review output. I hope I'm wrong, but this sounds too good to be true, like cold fusion or the like.

Maybe, though, I'm just getting skeptical in my old age...

But still, I hope I'm wrong.

Re:Can't Wait For The Peer Review (4, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237738)

The thought that occurred to me was: if your muscle cells have had a coding sequence for an antibody injected into them, aren't they now engaging in effort that has nothing to do with their primary function? Wouldn't that impact things in old age? Wouldn't that increase the likelihood of heart problems, perhaps?

Then, one might think: why would you want to produce a boatload of HIV antibodies after your years of promiscuous sexual activity are over? Very few of us continue with that behavior ad infinitum.

Re:Can't Wait For The Peer Review (1)

whereissue (2522564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237830)

Are you concerned that this could lead to some variant of Polio? That was my first thought... The abstract seems to indicate that these antibodies would bear a striking similarity. Does anyone know if similar studies are being conducted?

Re:Can't Wait For The Peer Review (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238252)

why would you want to produce a boatload of HIV antibodies after your years of promiscuous sexual activity are over?

Older people have sex too, and they are not strictly monogamous. HIV infections can also be dormant for long periods time, so a person who was promiscuous 10 years ago may find themselves presenting symptoms of HIV infection.

Re:Can't Wait For The Peer Review (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238394)

Creating antibodies is a secondary function of every cell for normal, health people. This isn't something completely outside their normal function, even if it is outside their 'obvious' function (primary isn't a terrible word for it, but I think it puts a bit too much emphasis).

Re:Can't Wait For The Peer Review (3, Interesting)

cpricejones (950353) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238798)

So the goal of the adenovirus is to introduce the broadly neutralizing antibody into T cell lines. These are the immune cells that are going to be ultimately fighting HIV infection, but they lack the right antibodies. In the normal situation, your body raises antibodies, but they cannot bind to the right spot on the virus envelope. Instead, they bind to a spot that the virus naturally varies, and the virus escapes via mutation (i.e., mutated virus replicates, other virus doesn't). In the new situation, the adenovirus provides an antibody that is better, which binds a spot on Env that the virus needs (so virus with mutation at this spot replicate poorly).

So muscle and heart cells are likely not getting the vector, nor would they be expressing antibodies. Similarly, your body wont continue to raise the antibody if the infection is gone (it will not be ad infinitum).

This is my understanding ... perhaps others could add key points.

Re:Can't Wait For The Peer Review (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237958)

Why would it be too good to be true? We now have decades of research on HIV, large amounts of funding for HIV research, and a very real and widely accepted public need. At one time, people would have said that the current treatments for HIV infection sounded too good to be true as well.

Re:Can't Wait For The Peer Review (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238984)

I wanna see some peer-review output. I hope I'm wrong, but this sounds too good to be true, like cold fusion or the like.

Maybe, though, I'm just getting skeptical in my old age...

But still, I hope I'm wrong.

Um, this was published in Nature, which is a peer-reviewed journal.

I thought the cure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237660)

Was to inject concentrated cash puree directly into the body.

Trouble is (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237734)

"as scientists have failed to find a molecule that induces the immune system to produce enough potent antibodies"

scientists have failed to find proof that AIDS is actually caused by HIV

Re:Trouble is (1)

DRBivens (148931) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237828)

"as scientists have failed to find a molecule that induces the immune system to produce enough potent antibodies"

scientists have failed to find proof that AIDS is actually caused by HIV

{{citation needed}}

Re:Trouble is (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38237878)

google "peter duesberg" (and/or kary mullis)

Re:Trouble is (4, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239314)

It can't be cited other than by checking every single scientific study in all of history and seeing that nonw of them proof that ADIS is caused by HIV.

it can be trivially disproved by showing the proof of course.

For that we basically have Koch's Postulates.

1. The germ must be found in every host with the disease
There have been cases of of AIDS like symptoms without HIV:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8093633 [nih.gov]

They are very rare though, and just because something that isn't influenza can cause flu like symptoms doesn't mean influenza doesn't cause the flu.

Essentially everyone with AIDS tests positive for HIV, and >99% of people without AIDS test negative for HIV.

2. The germ must be isolated from the host and grown in pure culture
This is done routinely .

3. The germ must cause the disease when introduced into a susceptible healthy host.
4. The germ must be re-isolated from the infected host

Ethics prevent us from doing these steps for things we think will kill you.

However, there have been a few lab accidents in which workers have been infected with HIV (cultured HIV, not just say blood from an AIDS patient getting into their bloodstream, which would carry more than just HIV). All of them showed T-cell depletion. And HIV was then isolated from them and matched the one they had been infected with exactly.

http://gateway.nlm.nih.gov/MeetingAbstracts/ma?f=102203749.html [nih.gov]

Plus the dozens of health care workers who have contracted AIDS from mistakes with HIV+ blood/etc - clearly not as good as isolated HIV infection for showing it is HIV, but more volume.

Re:Trouble is (2)

whereissue (2522564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237906)

A river crossing is not "caused" by a bridge. A bridge has long been identified as the preferred method of crossing a river, though... Do you need proof of that, too?

Turning off Gene Therapy? (4, Interesting)

mathmathrevolution (813581) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237798)

The article expresses a concern that once the gene therapy is started it can't be turned off if the person has an allergic reaction to the antibodies. Maybe somebody more informed can explain why:

1) You couldn't test for an allergic reaction in advance of the gene therapy.

2) You couldn't just do more gene therapy to turn off your original gene therapy.

Re:Turning off Gene Therapy? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238420)

1: Allergic reactions tend to develop over time. You may not be allergic at first, but as a result of constant exposure, you may become so over time. Antibodies are small and soluble enough that this isn't usually a problem, but with a non-self fC region, they can be. We've seen this occasionally with the purification tags used in many common biotherapeutics; if your immune system begins to recognize the tag (his-6 is common) from one therapeutic, any other biologic with the same tag will cause an allergic reaction. Note: this doesn't normally occur with antibody-based therapeutics since they can be efficiently purified without being tagged.
 
2: The thing about turning it off is that the off switch has to be hit in the same cells that are producing it; i.e. millions of separate sites. More gene therapy is unlikely to hit *all* of the same cells, and will potentially cause some unintended consequences in non-target cells. The solution is to use a molecular switch. If I were designing it, I'd flank the antibody promoter region and the transcription start site with loxP recognition sequences. Add a cre recombinase gene under the direction of an antibiotic-activated promoter. Basically this would allow you to reverse at least a portion of the gene therapy at will. Take an antibiotic and the affected cells would actually cut out the antibody producing region they introduced. Unfortunately, if you wanted to again have protection, you'd have to undergo the gene therapy again. You could do a similar setup using siRNA under a controlled promoter, but this scheme also has its drawbacks (repression of the transgene therapeutic would only be temporary - which could be better or worse depending on your goals). Anyway, whichever scheme you use will have to be introduced in conjunction with the original treatment; adding it afterwards won't work nearly as well due to the difficulty in getting the treatment to all of the affected cells.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239238)

Damn, you seem to be a smart mother fucker.

I'm curious though. In your example, you kill the gene therapy with antibiotics, like a permanent off switch.

Would it be possible to create gene therapy that is only active in the presence of some external chemical? Forgive my bad example, but could you make it so the gene therapy only activates in the presence of, say, aspirin? That way, after the gene therapy nothing happens, but once you begin an aspirin regimen it would activate, and if there was some allergic reaction you could just stop taking aspirin. Aspirin may be a bad choice for a variety of reasons, but any chemical not normally present in the human body should work, as long as it gets into all the cells...right?

Re:MOD PARENT UP (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239580)

Thanks.
 
    Yes, it's possible to design a gene that will only be transcribed in the presence of a certain chemical. The term we typically use is "induced" genes. These are similar to the siRNA example in that they're typically a temporary switch. A permanent on switch is also possible, but is more complicated to set up (easy way would be to use the cre/loxP scheme and cutting out a repressing element rather than a promoting one). I'm more familiar with prokaryotic (bacterial) expression systems than I am mammalian ones, but many of the same principles apply. Theoretically, you could use a pretty wide variety of chemicals, but we only typically use a handful of well-characterized systems. The most common one I use is the lac operon from E.coli, which can be turned on using either lactose (temporary) or IPTG (permanent). Arabinose is another commonly used inducing agent. Induction systems vary a lot in how well the expression can be modulated, and how leaky the expression is at basal levels. Analogs to these also exist in eukaryotic systems but I'm not familiar with many off the top of my head.

Re:Turning off Gene Therapy? (1)

PSandusky (740962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238672)

Someone who is more into biotech could probably do better than I could with this, but here goes...

1) You could. The problem is that the person wouldn't necessarily have been previously exposed to the antibody that would cause the reaction. Sensitization is a lot more likely once your body's been in contact with the stuff for a while. If someone had some sensitivity to the antibodies[1] before gene therapy even began, it's entirely possible that they've got bigger problems in front of them than getting vaccinated against HIV, and I have to ask why they're in this trial/program. (The sensitivity also could've cropped up a lot earlier than this procedure in such a case, to boot.)

2) Not necessarily a good idea at this stage of research and understanding. If gene therapy consists of pasting a gene somewhere into a chromosome, you've got to define (as best you can) where you're going to do the pasting, just so you can get your material (of variable length, depending on what you're trying to do) incorporated. Wherever it ends up and however you can narrow that down, you hope it works. Going in and messing with all of that to get rid of or change what you did in the first place is a little bit like blindfolding someone, spinning them three times, then holding them over a patient to make a surgical incision, leaving them blindfolded, spinning them three times again, and expecting them to both find and suture the original incision. Granted, there are markers and other means of identifying where genes are, but I don't think we're near the point that "turn off the original gene therapy" is considered any better than something way, way easier said than done.

[1] Antibodies are generally like screwdrivers with interchangeable bits. The handle and shaft don't change much, so a sensitivity to them seems very unlikely. As for the bits themselves? Hard to say. I don't know enough immunology to say one way or the other, but I'd think that the antibody itself wouldn't tend to be treated like an antigen. Of course, it probably depends quite a bit on the antibody in question.

Promising, but... (4, Interesting)

FlavaFlavivirus (2021178) | more than 2 years ago | (#38237876)

This experiment will probably not produce an actual human drug, as it suffers from the same drawback as most previous gene-therapy studies: the Adenovirus transduction system will kill a significant number of patients. However, the results do seem to indicate that a monoclonal antibody has protective effects. The gene therapy vaccine may not work, but you could inject purified antibody into someone who had a known exposure, or is going to be in a high-risk situation, and prevent infection. Unfortunately, these types of therapies will never be able to cure an established infection, as HIV integrates its genome into host T-cells.

Gene therapy is a preventive measure (2)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238042)

And there are already much better ways to prevent getting infected with HIV.

Re:Gene therapy is a preventive measure (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238192)

Unfortunately, the best ways to prevent HIV infection are not within the realm of what can reasonably be expected. People tend to have sex, to not be monogamous, and prefer not to discuss previous sexual partners. Condoms are highly effective but not perfect, and condoms substantially reduce the pleasure men feel while having sex (and I even know some women who do not like the feeling of a condom).

The reality is that a vaccine or cure for HIV is needed in order for the disease to be eradicated. There is no other way to solve this problem. You will never be able to convince millions (let alone billions) people to be monogamous and to wait until marriage.

Re:Gene therapy is a preventive measure (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238610)

Now even if we only discuss the practical side of the problem, I would say convincing millions is still more plausible then treating said millions with ridiculosly expensive gene therapy every few years.

Re:Gene therapy is a preventive measure (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38239294)

condoms substantially reduce the pleasure men feel while having sex (and I even know some women who do not like the feeling of a condom).

I never understood why so many people believe this. Sex is so much more than "penis in vagina"; there's a lot more to kiss, touch, grope, and caress. With a condom it's like 90% as good as without a condom. 90% of awesome is still pretty awesome.

Re:Gene therapy is a preventive measure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238200)

No transfusions, or sex with anybody at risk of transfusions?

"Scientists from Caltech"? (4, Interesting)

Christianson (1036710) | more than 2 years ago | (#38238224)

Maybe this is a silly, minor thing, but it bothers me these sort of blurbs always just talk about faceless "scientists." Does it really take that much work to find out who the principal researchers were? Maybe more people would be inspired to get into science if it actually seemed to come with some measure of face rather than anonymity in a lab coat.

More news on HIV destruction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38238512)

Though a week plus old, still apt.

http://engineering.tamu.edu/news/2011/11/21/research-finds-hiv-killing-compound/

Here's to hoping this kind of research, and discovery, leads to some truely ground-breaking implementations.

HIV is not the cause of AIDS... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239212)

... and none of you idiots here have a CLUE about what you claim to be talking about.

What is HTLV3? Do you know?

Try reading this:

http://www.virusmyth.com/aids/hiv/abnvp.htm

If a sexually transmitted virus causes death within ten years, why aren't millions of 30 year old Americans dying right now? STDs are at an all time high. How come the so-called 'latency' period went from six months (back when 'AIDS' was first discovered) to essentially A LIFETIME?

None of you are even slightly interested in alternative hypotheses, even though the 'official' hypothesis has failed miserably to predict the spread (or lack thereof) of AIDS...

U.S. Constitution code (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38239372)

Have you read the U.S. Constitution code? People usually call it a document, just like DNA codes are usually called genes and software codes [sic] are usually called programs.

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