The naturally resistant people have mutant CCR5 genes that inhibit HIV.
Previously, scientists found that by cutting the CCR5 gene out of white blood cells involved in the immune response known as T-cells, they could protect a tube full of human cells from the virus. The gene editing technique relies on proteins called zinc finger nucleases that can delete any gene from a living cell.
In theory, zinc finger nucleases could give that immunity to anyone.
The procedure is simple: Take some healthy T-cells out of an HIV patient, clip out their CCR5 genes, grow more of these clipped T-cells in a dish, and then put them back in the patient.
“In this first study we will re-infuse approximately 10 billion of these cells back into the participants, and we will see if it is safe and if those cells inhibit HIV replication in vivo,” said Tebas. “We know they do in the test tube.”
We also don’t know how long the T cells will live in the host, but infusing them is probably less ugly than a lot of other therapies for HIV…