New Israeli Treatment Kills HIV Cells

Published: September 6th 2010
in News » Israel

HIV cells
Pic: wikimedia commons

Researchers from Hebrew University have created a treatment that eradicates HIV-infected human cells, the journal AIDS Research and Therapy reported last month.


The cells that were destroyed were in laboratory cultures.


The therapy is able to kills HIV cells without harming nearby cells that are normal. It was developed by Hebrew University’s Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences and the Institute of Chemistry.


Until now, there has not been a way to destroy cells infected with HIV. Instead, today’s methods involve stopping the replication of the virus, in order to delays the progression to AIDS. However, when this treatment is stopped, the disease begins to progress again and will eventually infect other healthy cells.


“In the usual process the HIV virus injects a maximum of two replications of its genetic material into healthy cells," Dr. Abraham Loyter, of the life sciences institute, told Haaretz.


Loyter said that his team created short pieces of protein, called peptides, which interfere with the replication of the HIV virus and send a large amount of replications of genetic material into the cell that is infected. This causes the cell to self-destruct.


Loyter added, "The usual medications kill the virus that has entered the body during infection, and the [peptide] treatment allows cells infected with the genetic load of the virus to be killed.”


When used on the human cell cultures in the Hebrew University lab, the peptides killed the human cells infected with HIV in two weeks. Two weeks later, there were no HIV-infected cells in the culture. The scientists concluded that these cells were destroyed.


The study looked at the efficacy of their therapy on the HIV-1 virus, the most common cause of AIDS in developing countries.


There are approximately 33.4 million cases of HIV worldwide. In Israel, 390 cases were report in 2008, the largest number in 10 years.


The scientists have patented their treatment with Yissum, the university’s technology transfer office. They are currently looking for a commercial partner in order to begin the next phase of their trials.

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