HIV Researchers Make Immune Cell Breakthrough With Mice

Scientists at the University of Southern California say they succeeded in creating immune cells that ward off HIV in mice.

The researchers tinkered with human stem cells and then inserted them into mice where they multiplied into immune system cells that provided protection against infection with HIV, according to a study released online July 2 in Nature Biotechnology. The results are unlike typical research in animals because the mice have been “humanized”: They have human immune systems and resisted a human disease. Still, until research is conducted on humans, there’s no way to know if the treatment will work in people. And it may be years until that happens. But there are high hopes. “It’s a one-shot treatment if it works,” noted study co-author Paula Cannon, associate professor of molecular microbiology at the University of Southern California.

One researcher estimates the cost of this procedure in humans to be around $100,000. Which is still far less than the cost of a lifetime of HAART therapy.