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Fighting Fire with Fire: Enlisting AIDS to Fight Cancer

Update Date: Aug 28, 2012 12:32 PM EDT

A new controversial study published in PLoS Genetics on August 23 2012, a CNRS team at the Architecture et Réactivité de l'ARN (RNA Architecture and Reactivity) laboratory, claims that HIV can be transformed into a "biotechnological tool" for improving human health.

Researchers believe that the unique quality of the human immunodeficiency virus to use human cells to multiply and mutate constantly, which allows the virus to adapt to repeated environmental changes in the body and resist antiviral treatment, can be  rechanneled for therapeutic purposes, in particular the treatment of cancer.

By infecting a strain of the gene for deoxycytidine kinase (dCK), a protein that activates anticancer drugs, with HIV the strain can multiply faster than the cancerous cells can, effectively eliminating the tumorous growths before they can take over.

More than this, the power associated with the multiplicative process of HIV would mean less of the anticancer drug used, therefore little to know debilitating side effects that is prevalent in current anti-cancer medicines.

A news release from the CNRS explains,

"Through HIV multiplication, [we] selected a "library" of nearly 80 mutant proteins and tested them on tumor cells in the presence of an anticancer drug. The results have enabled us identify a dCK variant that is more effective than the wild-type (non-mutated) protein, inducing the death of tumor cells in culture. In combination with this protein, the anticancer drugs showed identical effectiveness at 1/300 the dose. The possibility of reducing the doses of anticancer drugs would palliate the problems posed by their components' toxicity, reduce their side-effects and, most importantly, improve their effectiveness."

For more information visit the CRNS Website. 

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