(photo credit: (Illustrative photo: Bill Davis/Newsday/MCT))
A University of Southern California scientist is being credited with creating a virus that targets HIV-infected cells, thus allowing drugs to destroy them.
Dr. Pin Wang's lentiviral vector latches onto HIV-infected cells, flagging them with what is called "suicide gene therapy". This allows drugs to later target and destroy the cells.
"If you deplete all of the HIV-infected cells, you can at least partially solve the problem," said Wang, chemical engineering professor with the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
Like a precision bombing raid, the lentiviral vector approach avoids
collateral damage, keeping uninfected cells out of harm's way.
far, the lentiviral vector has been tested in culture dishes and has
resulted in the destruction of about 35 percent of existing HIV cells.
The next step is to test the procedure in mice.
Though this is an important step, Wang says this is not a cure for HIV.
"This is an early stage of research, but certainly it is one of the options in that direction.”