A study carried out by researchers at University of California in Los Angeles has demonstrated that, at least theoretically so far, it is possible to create, developing human blood stem cells, a particular type of modified cells that detect and kill cells infected with HIV virus. In practice, it will be like having a genetic virus, useful not only to fight AIDS, but also in the struggle against several chronic viral diseases.
The killer cell, called CD8, has been initially extracted from a patient infected with HIV, and the molecule which detects and kills infected cells has been identified. These modified cells are capable of killing only a small part of the viral cells present inside the human body.
To make them more numerous and stronger, they have been cloned by implanting them into mice, allowing for development of a range of cells which can locate and destroy other cells which contain HIV virus proteins.
The next step will involve testing of the system on a more advanced model, in order to be able to determine and predict the results on the human body.
So far, studies have given very positive potential results, and researchers hope to be able to broaden the range of action, to fight other viruses. In fact, these studies can be used as a starting point for further future developments, especially concerning the possibility of repairing a damaged immune system, after it has been damaged following an infection by a virus causing a chronic disease, or even following to some types of tumor.