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Health Agencies Update
February 18, 1998

Anti-AIDS Gene Therapy

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Copyright 1998 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.1998American Medical Association

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JAMA. 1998;279(7):494. doi:10.1001/jama.279.7.494-JHA81008-3-1

A form of gene therapy tested in the best available animal model for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection appears to reduce the pathogenicity of such viruses, report scientists at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md, and The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md (Nat Med. 1998;4:181-186).

The investigators tested the therapy in rhesus macaques, which develop an AIDS-like disease when infected with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). The experimental therapy targets retroviral RNA genes called tat and rev that code for 2 proteins needed for both HIV and SIV to reproduce in infected CD4 cells. The approach uses antisense RNA, a strand of nucleic acid that corresponds to and binds to genes—in this case, the tat and rev genes. The resulting double-stranded RNA molecule encourages the degradation of SIV RNA and interferes with the ability of the retroviral RNA to direct the production of the 2 key proteins.

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