U.S Doctors Treat Cancer With Modified HIV Virus

A Doctor in the Laboratory

Doctors in the United States say they have saved a seven-year-old girl who was close to dying from leukemia by pioneering the use a modified form of the HIV virus to treat the disease.

After fighting her disease with chemotherapy for almost two years and suffering two relapses, the young girl ‘faced grim prospects’, doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said.

So in February this year they agreed to take her on in an experimental program that fought fire with fire.

Helped by a genetically altered HIV virus – stripped of its devastating properties that cause AIDS – doctors turned the girl’s own immune cells into a superior force able to rout the ‘aggressive’ leukemia.

Emily Whitehead was the first child and is one of only a handful of people in total to be given what’s officially known as CTL019 therapy. The hospital stressed this could not yet be called ‘a magic bullet’.

However, in her case at least the success was dramatic.

First, millions of the girl’s natural immune system cells were removed. Then the modified HIV virus was used to carry in a new gene that would boost the immune cells and help them spot, then attack cancer cells that had previously been able to sneak in ‘under the radar’, the hospital said on its website.

Finally the rebooted immune cells were sent back in to do their work.

‘The researchers have created a guided missile that locks in on and kills B cells, thereby attacking B-cell leukemia,’ the hospital said.

Pediatric oncologist Stephan Grupp, who cared for the girl, explained on Tuesday that there was never any danger of contracting AIDS during the process.

‘The way we get the new gene into the T cells (immune cells) is by using a virus. This virus was developed from the HIV virus, however all of the parts of the HIV virus that can cause disease are removed,’ he said in an email.

‘It is impossible to catch HIV or any other infection. What’s left is the property of the HIV virus that allows it to put new genes into cells.’

During the treatment, Emily became very ill and went into the intensive care unit, underlining how risky the procedure can be.

However, drugs that partly block the immune reaction were administered, without interfering with the anti-leukemia action, and she recovered, the hospital said.

The result was ‘complete’ and best of all, the doctors say, the boosted immune shield continues ‘to remain in the patient’s body to protect against a recurrence of the cancer’.

‘She has no leukemia in her body for any test that we can do – even the most sensitive tests,’ Grupp told ABC television.

‘We need to see that the remission goes on for a couple of years before we think about whether she is cured or not. It is too soon to say.’

Emily’s parents Kari and Tom told the hospital that the success of the operation has changed their world. Instead of chemotherapy that made the girl lose all her hair, she is now back in school, walking her dog Lucy and playing soccer.

‘T cell therapy was really the only option left for Emily,’ Tom said.

Grupp said on the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website that cell therapies might eventually replace the more costly, painful bone marrow transplant treatment, a standard last-ditch defence against cancer.


9 thoughts on “U.S Doctors Treat Cancer With Modified HIV Virus

    1. Toninyila, this does not actually proove that HIV was made from an American lab. Just to put the whole story in very simple terms- it is like if they wanted to use you somewhere else but they wanted to limit your walking ability, then they cut off your legs. This may not necessarily mean that since they have been able to cut your legs off they are then the ones created you!

  1. OH MY GOD, guess what if that kid live or dies thes american people will have produced another disease that we have to deal with, for gods sake wipe these animals out

  2. If these Doctors who have adone a wonderful jobs of treating this 9yr old girl of cancer using an HIV Virus without those contents which cause Aids to the body, then they can do the same to many people living with HIV virus in Poor developing countries like Uganda who can`t even afford health care services with support from UASID which has really helped many by removing those contents from the HIV virus that can spread Aids. This will really help in the world in stopping the disease.

  3. we should be cerebrating 4 this practical research instead of alleging.just pray they discover the HIV virus cure.

  4. Well, this proves HIV was created in a lab. And it also means there is a cure for HIV but they only want Africans and the poor to suffer. I mean selling ARVs is very lucrative because you get customers who’ll buy the drugs until they die. So these companies would be out of business once HIV vaccine is released to the public hence I believe they’re hiding it somewhere while we die.

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