Genetics has helped many facets of human life, from producing GM seeds, to help solve criminal cases through forensic genetics to food production involving microbes. Now, genetic chance to prevent the spread of HIV / AIDS through gene therapy.
Why is genetics important? Noted that each year, more than 2 million HIV-infected adults and many of them are aged productive. Meanwhile, traditional vaccine development is still at a stalemate. Through genetics, can be pursued in a natural way for humans to be “immune” from HIV.
David Baltimore, a virus expert from the California Institute of Technology has a controversial idea that gene therapy. He proposed to insert a human muscle cells without HIV / AIDS with HIV antibody-producing genes of people with HIV / AIDS by using adenovirus as the sender.
“It’s something unusual and very rational to say that there is no reason to do so unless there’s no alternative. But if there is no alternative, as now, we must think of new ways to protect humans,” says Baltimore.
With the proposed Baltimore, then inserted into the adenovirus gene is expected to be a brain formation of antibodies against HIV is not found in humans that have not been infected with HIV / AIDS. Muscle cells then become the factory of this antibody. In this way, the transmission can be prevented.
The effectiveness of these ways have been tried in mice. Scientists have found two types of antibody, b12 and VRC01, which is proven to work effectively against HIV infection with 100 times larger than usual doses received by human infection. Produced antibody levels remain high during the first year, proving that this can be a long-term therapy.
Some people concerned with the proposed Baltimore. First, the results of experiments in mice can not always be the benchmark for the results can be different in humans. Second, once the gene is inserted muscle cells, the process can not be reversed again. It could be a problem if there are negative consequences. However, Baltimore would continue his research, including the possibility tested in humans.