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UCLA researchers demonstrate that stem cells can be engineered to kill HIV

Researchers from the UCLA AIDS Institute and colleagues have for the first time demonstrated that human blood stem cells can be engineered into cells that can target and kill HIV-infected cells — a process that potentially could be used against a range of chronic viral diseases.

The study, published Dec. 7 in the-peer reviewed online journal PLoS ONE, provides proof-of-principle — that is, a demonstration of feasibility — that humanstem cells can be engineered into the equivalent of a genetic vaccine.

"We have demonstrated in this proof-of-principle study that this type of approach can be used to engineer the human immune system, particularly the T-cell response, to specifically target HIV-infected cells," said lead investigator Scott G. Kitchen, assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute. "These studies lay the foundation for further therapeutic development that involves restoring damaged or defective immune responses toward a variety of viruses that causechronic disease, or even different types of tumors."

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