Assassin Cells Slay Hidden HIV

Human trials set next year
By Jess Kilby,  Newser User
Posted Nov 10, 2008 4:02 AM CST
Researchers have genetically modified virus-fighting T-cells to improve their ability to detect and kill the HIV virus.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – A promising new treatment for AIDS may be in the works, with the discovery that genetically engineered immune cells can detect and destroy HIV even when the virus tries to hide by mutating. The so-called “assassin” cells, created from the T-cells of an HIV patient, have worked their magic in a lab dish but have yet to be tested in humans, Reuters reports.

The modified cells were not only better at recognizing infected HIV cells, but more aggressive in fighting off the infection—requiring fewer cells to do the job than their unmodified counterparts. "It is possible to improve on nature,” the researchers wrote in the journal Nature Medicine. Human trials of the treatment are expected to start next year.