Sunday, 11 March 2012

HIV GENE THERAPY, AN ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that causes progressive failure of the immune system thus exposing the body to various infections and cancer.[3] According to an Australian statistics in 2009, there were 29 395 cases of HIV.[2] HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids such as the blood (including menstrual blood), semen (cum), vaginal fluid of a person who has HIV and by inheritance.[3]  Up-to-date clinical trials show that HIV gene therapy could be a safer and preferred alternative form of treatment. [1] Another treatment, the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), has had side effects which include loss of appetite, tendency to develop infections and renal damage.[4] [5]  This breakthrough discovery can greatly improve research to suppress the effects of HIV.
            The miracle of this treatment is an anti-HIV gene obtained from a genetically engineered mouse virus, OZ1.[1] The patients are firstly administered with a growth factor that stimulates growth of white blood cells.[1] The blood is extracted to obtain blood stem cells which will be infected with the OZ1 gene.[1] OZ1 encodes an RNA molecule called a ribozyme, which specifically targets and inactivates HIV genes.[1] Once the blood stem cells are transfused back into the blood circulatory system, the infected cells affect the bone marrow and populate it with HIV-resistant T cells.[1] Thus, more of the body’s T cells should be HIV resistant.  
According to the research conducted by UCLA researcher Ronald T. Mitsuyasu, MD, and his colleagues, the OZ1 gene therapy used in the 100-week study resulted in no harmful side effects. [1]  Furthermore, the HIV did not developed resistance to the anti-HIV ribozyme gene. [1] The anti-HIV gene was effective such that CD4 T cells, which are white blood cells prone to HIV, saw an increase in cell count. [1] The significant mechanism by which HIV patients develop immunodeficiency is through the loss of CD4 T cells. [1] Therefore, this gene therapy has high hopes for restoring the immune system of HIV/AIDS patients. [1]
            In conclusion, HIV gene therapy research has a promising future to suppress HIV thoroughly. Even though it is in its early stages of clinical trial, improvements can be made to the anti-HIV genes such that efficiently affects the bone marrow, and it can be structured to be more powerful in suppressing HIV compared to the available one. HIV gene therapy research should be endorsed so that the society will benefit from it.
Reference List

1.      DeNoon, D. February 16, 2009. ‘'Major Advance' in HIV Gene Therapy, Study Shows HIV Gene Therapy Is Safe, Could Make Body Resist AIDS Virus. WebMD Health News. accessed on March 11, 2012 from <http://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/news/20090216/hiv-gene-therapy-major-advance>
2.      Estimated* HIV and AIDS diagnoses by year. (n.d.). Retrieved on March 11, 2012 from <http://www.avert.org/aids-hiv-australia.htm>
3.      HIV/AIDS - your questions answered.(n.d). Retrieved on March 11, 2012 from <http://ideas.health.vic.gov.au/diseases/hiv-aids-your-questions-answered.asp>
4.      Izzedine H, Harris M, Perazella MA. October 2009. The nephrotoxic effects of HAART. Retrieved on March 11, 2012 from <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19776778>
5.      Whelan, J. July, 2000. Gene therapy alternative to HAART for HIV. DDT vol. 5, no. 7. pp 269-270, accessed on March 11, 2012 from <http://pdn.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.library.uq.edu.au/science?_ob=MiamiImageURL&_cid=271275&_user=331728&_pii=S1359644600015208&_check=y&_origin=article&_zone=toolbar&_coverDate=01-Jul-2000&view=c&originContentFamily=serial&wchp=dGLbVlB-zSkWA&md5=c3c72539fa4ce9b971a2d852e80d41d0/1-s2.0-S1359644600015208-main.pdf>

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