Researchers at the University of Southern California are developing a molecular equivalent of a laser-guided bomb to target viral cells and help make positive HIV tests a thing of the past.
Dr. Pin Wang’s new therapy is known as lentivirus vectoring. It essentially involves introducing a second type of virus into the body of a person already infected with HIV. Rather than attacking the body, this new virus hunts down and attaches itself to HIV molecules. This then marks viral cells, making them easily identifiable to HIV medications.
The technique is similar to a common military maneuver in which a soldier on the ground uses a laser to mark a target in precision bombing campaigns.
Wang stressed that this is not necessarily a cure for HIV, as it does not completely destroy every unit of the virus. Furthermore, it is still in the early stages of testing. However, the approach does represent a novel way of hunting down HIV that could be promising.
"If you deplete all of the HIV-infected cells, you can at least partially solve the problem," Wang said. "This is an early stage of research, but certainly it is one of the options in that direction."
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