Using HIV To Kill Cancer

From NY Times:

To perform the treatment, doctors remove millions of the patient’s T-cells — a type of white blood cell — and insert new genes that enable the T-cells to kill cancer cells. The technique employs a disabled form of H.I.V. because it is very good at carrying genetic material into T-cells. The new genes program the T-cells to attack B-cells, a normal part of the immune system that turn malignant in leukemia.

The altered T-cells — called chimeric antigen receptor cells — are then dripped back into the patient’s veins, and if all goes well they multiply and start destroying the cancer.

The T-cells home in on a protein called CD-19 that is found on the surface of most B-cells, whether they are healthy or malignant.

I can’t help but think this is one of those major events in which we’ll look back and see it as a turning point in medicine. This stuff is at it’s infancy but when you think about it, we’re turning a deadly virus into a cure for a deadly disease. Science FTW!

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