Image Credit: iStockphoto/Henrik Jonsson Attempts to trick human immune systems into fighting HIV and prostate cancer cells have had little success, mainly because the these cells keep managing to elude recognition as "bad" cells. But a new study, conducted by researchers at Yale University, may change that direction in the not-too-distant future.
The scientists at Yale have developed two different synthetic molecules called "antibody-recruiting molecules (ARMs)." One set of ARMs targets HIV (ARM-H), and the other targets prostate cancer (ARM-P). The molecules work by binding to natural antibodies already in the bloodstream and to the HIV virus or prostrate cancer cells as well, thereby coating the disease cells with the antibodies and triggering our natural immune response to produce more antibodies.
“Instead of trying to kill the pathogens directly, these molecules
manipulate our immune system to do something it wouldn’t ordinarily
do,” said David Spiegel, Ph.D., M.D., assistant professor of chemistry and the corresponding author of the papers.
Current treatments for HIV and prostate cancer, including antiviral drugs, radiation, and chemotherapy, have severe side effects, are costly, and can be ineffective. But the potential new therapy, if proved effective, will be far less expensive, can be given in pill form, and will likely produce fewer negative side effects.
The research team is currently testing the ARM-H and the ARM-P on laboratory mice, so there is a long way to go before these treatments are available for humans, if the current study and future studies are successful. But ARM-H and ARM-P treatments are in the works and look promising. (source)
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