Human Stem Cells Successfully Fight HIV in Mice

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2010

A new study released online in the journal Nature Biotechnology reports that scientists may be able to combat the HIV using human stem cells which were grown in mice which were modified to have a human immune system. The experiments still need to be conducted on humans to see if the approach will work on people, but scientists are hopeful.

According to HealthDay:

In the new study, researchers engineered human stem cells — cells that create other cells — to lock a kind of “door” that allows HIV to enter. The door, a “receptor” on immune cells linked to a gene known as CCR5, is disabled in a very small percentage of people, and those people appear to be virtually immune to HIV.

“That’s like nature telling us how to cure AIDS,” Cannon reasoned. The idea of the experimental treatment is “to engineer a patient’s own cells so they’d be resistant to HIV” in much the same way.

The researchers did this by “cutting” a gene in the stem cells. These genetically manipulated cells did try and repair the injury, Cannon noted, but they didn’t do a good job and HIV’s way in was essentially disabled. The researchers inserted these tweaked stem cells into the humanized mice and other mice, then tried to infect them with HIV. According to the scientists, the genetically engineered stem cells went on to create mature immune system cells, such as T-cells, in the humanized mice. After a couple of weeks, these new immune cells appeared to provide protection against HIV. The cells grew greatly in number, offering fewer targets for the virus to attack.

If this proves successful in humans, it would amount to a “one-shot treatment” costing an estimated $100,000. With current treatment for HIV/AIDS costing $10,000 to $25,000 per year, this could be a very cost effective treatment.

Emily K

July 5th, 2010

i hope that this will become a genuine new hope, because the last time something was reported as being a “hope,” it was actually a bust. but i do believe that stem cells provide enormous potential in disease combat.


July 5th, 2010

Would the cost be covered/aided by the government or insurance? 100k being a sole burden to the ill person is basically no cure whatsoever for most. How many people can afford a 100k expense.

Regan DuCasse

July 5th, 2010

Whether this works or needs more extension and intense expansion of test subjects to prove effective, it’s always good to hear in what way researchers are finding ways to combat this disease.

I live with an auto immune disorder everyday that puts me at risk of similar problems to those with HIV. If researchers could find a way to reverse the rH factor and genetic mutation that causes my lupus, I’d be happy too.

Whenever the anti gay bring up HIV/AIDS as a deciding factor for them regarding gay equality (such as the testimonies from Elaine Donnelly and DADT), they are ready with all kinds of statistics and medical information, but are not part of the waves of people who care to FIGHT THE DISEASE through funding of medical research, educational and preventive outreach in vulnerable communities.

You never hear about them participating in any voluteerism in any of those areas, or giving money to the cause.
They’d rather give money to keep gay people from getting married, than keeping people from getting the disease in the way most effective.

It’s the folks who HAVE endeavored to promote charities and medical research, engage people with AIDS and commit to educating the public that can take credit for this exciting new experiment.

At least it looks like they get more results anyway.


July 5th, 2010


In other words, if this works a whole lot of people will still die because they can’t afford the “cure”. Talk about immoral!!!!!!!!!

Scott P.

July 5th, 2010

AIDS is no longer a death sentence. The life expectancy of a 40 year old with full-blown AIDS is 20-30 years. Atripla, the current favored drug costs $50 a pill in the US. With another 30-40 years projected, then the government and most HMOs will be more than willing to fork out one lump sum than to continue treating it with drugs. For most AIDS patients there are a lot more drugs than just the anti-retrovirals. Everything from vitamins to cholesterol medication is required, along with quarterly doctor visits. Lets all hope this is a final, real cure, but we’ve all been down this road before.


July 5th, 2010

Well, of course it would be great if this is the “miracle” cure, but I’ll believe it when they prove it.

And yes, $100,000 is a bargain compared to the current cost of treatment.


July 5th, 2010

And yes, $100,000 is a bargain compared to the current cost of treatment.

It’s open to polite debate. For example, if the treatment works, what does the treatment consist of; a single IV drip into your arm? That’s a whooping price tag for bag of fluids.

Maybe I just can’t imagine what “treatment” consists of. If you can take a syringe and inject this magic goo into a mouse and it results in a mouse that is HIV-negative, that’s something a minimum wage employee can do all day long. He can inject maybe 300 people in a single shift and the price tag is $64.00. Are they saying the magic bullet cost $99,940.00 a shot? I think rewarding the researchers is okay, but there are what; 34 million people with AIDS in the world?

34M X 100,000.00 = 3 Trillion bucks. The inventors could buy a couple of large countries on that that kind of royalty. Vacation house in Hawaii? No sweat. Just buy Hawaii.

Scott P.

July 5th, 2010

Please remember, the price contains all the investment of research, material et cetera. And most drug companies prorate the expense, making it more affordable in poorer countries. And, as with current drugs, once it’s in production (providing it works) the cost will come down.

Jim in MA

July 6th, 2010

Also note that they said that part of the treatment is to engineer the patient’s own cells. You couldn’t just make a batch and inject everyone. They have to grow a batch specifically for each person.

Priya Lynn

July 6th, 2010

Ray, the cost of injecting people is almost certainly a negligable part of the total cost of treatment. I suspect its very expensive to produce each batch of treated stem cells.


July 6th, 2010

All I have to say is faster, please. I hope that someone finds a cure for HIV soon.

As for other auto-immune diseases. I have a friend with an auto-immune disorder who has to take a prolonged injection nearly every week. She has to put four needles into her abdomen and hook it up to a portable pump so she can walk around. The cost is covered by her insurance, but the supposed cost to the insurance company is over 20K per treatment. If only she could take a one time injection to cure what she is afflicted. Faster, please.


July 15th, 2010

The virus has two main ways in, CXCR4 and CCR5 receptors, the report never mentioned the CXCR4 tropic strain which would make this “cure” useless.

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