Recently, an article circled around the internet claiming that doctors injected HIV into a girl dying of cancer. The HIV supposedly is killing off the cancer and helping the young girl recover.
However, there is a problem with this story. The reality is that HIV as we know of it was never actually used. A lentivirus was altered in such a way that it aids the immune system’s ability to attack another disease. Lentivirus’ are part of a genus of viruses that like HIV can fool the cells of a body.
Some of the girl’s T cells were removed and “reprogrammed” with the modified HIV-lentivirus. This in turns allows these cells to create proteins called chimeric antigen receptors which attach themselves to cancer cells. Once attached, these cells begin killing off the cancer cells. The procedure seems effective and more research is being done to see if this can work on all cancer types.
This reminds me of Will Smith’s movie, “I am Legend” where a geneticist creates a cure for cancer by manipulating the genetic material from the measles disease. The cure seems to work until human beings begin to transform into these light sensitive super humans that do not speak but seem to still have some intelligence and sense of social structure. Will Smith’s character is one of the last human beings left and eventually finds a cure that will return the mutated human beings back to normal.
While the procedure I write on here seems promising, it is important that geneticists study well what is being done and any future consequences. Nature is known to bring about surprises in regards to viruses. One small mistake and the human race can become extinct. However, I don’t see “I am Legend” happening with this research.