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Scientists evolve virus invisible to immune system

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posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 06:56 PM
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In a project that could benefit human health, scientists forced the evolution of a common virus so that it can avoid the human immune system, making it potentially useful as a delivery vehicle for gene therapy.




The adeno-associated virus, or AAV, infects about 90 percent of humans. Our immune system is adept at dealing with it. And because antibodies attack and neutralize the virus so readily, it's rendered useless for delivering drugs.

The researchers created mutant viruses by altering their DNA using proven techniques. Then they exposed the mutants to blood serum from rabbits immunized against AAV—the serum contained many types of antibodies to AAV. Only the mutant viruses that were able to evade the antibodies survived. The process was repeated with the survivors.
The emerging mutants survived after being injected into mice that had a thousand times the level of antibodies needed to destroy the wild AAV.

LiveScience


I like the idea of using it for gene therapy, but I don't think was the best idea to do.
Only time will tell though.


Coments, Opinions?




posted on Feb, 7 2006 @ 07:31 PM
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Well, the important thing to remember is that, as of yet, we don't have a better way of doing it. Viruses have always been used for gene-therapy like this, and the immuno-response has been a difficult factor in the gene-therapy (since the body's own protective systems work against the virus - more or less getting the patient sick in order to cure them).

The viruses are, however, rather harmless. The ones they use for gene-therapy are reproduce within other bacteria I believe - and pose no threat to human cells. When they connect with human cells, instead of infecting it with its own DNA, it "infects" the cell with genes that it needs and will keep. Think of it like a cellular syring.

I think that this discovery is just showing more of how Viruses border that line between living and non-living. Look how much now they're being used like tools. This discovery should make, essentially, for safer tools.

The fear that it could be used for harmful gene-therapy (like a biological weapon) is rather redundant, however, since agressive viruses would be much better suited for hurting humanity, instead of the comparatively slow gene-therapy.



 
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