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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

AIDS: USC Says Prof Pin Wang Has Invented 'A Virus That Hunts Down HIV-Infected Cells'

Sometimes the best way to catch a mouse is the natural way -- with a cat.

Using that philosophy, it seems, USC chemical engineering Professor Pin Wang might have just hit one out of the park. The university announced today that he "created a virus that hunts down HIV-infected cells."

You read that right. A living thing that preys on another living thing (but one we don't care for). Of course, it's a little more complicated than that:

Wang's "lentiviral vector" virus doesn't actually eat or destroy HIV-infected cells, but it does mark them for the kill, accomplished by drugs that can then better target them for destruction.

As is, HIV drugs can destroy healthy cells too. USC:

The process is analogous to the military practice of "buddy lasing" - that is, having a soldier on the ground illuminate a target with a laser to guide a precision bombing strike from an aircraft.

In the lab, Wang's virus has been known to destroy 35 percent of HIV-infected cells. Not a cure yet, but not bad at all.