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Can We Use HIV To Fight Leukemia?

| Filed under: HealthScience!


Science is awesome, and we have no idea how they come up with half the ideas they get and end up running with.

Like using a retooled version of HIV to fight leukemia. Seriously, who thinks of that? Whoever it is: buy them a beer. It works.

Emma Brooke Whitehead had leukemia earlier this year, and it was seemingly unbeatable. She'd been fighting it for two years already, and had exhausted every option. Except HIV.

They removed millions of Emma’s white blood cells and used genetically altered HIV to turn Emma’s cells into a kind of immunological “directed missile,” specifically programmed to destroy the leukemia cells. The cells were then returned to Emma’s body.

We're positive at some point someone important told whoever came up with this, "you can't do that."

Here's what the scientist said:

“All of the things that make the HIV virus able to cause disease have been removed from this particular virus whose only purpose is to put a gene into a cell. There is no danger of infection and there is no longer the HIV virus.”

Emma is now eight months past her treatment, is in complete remission.

The scientist continues:

“She has no leukemia in her body for any test that we can do — even the most sensitive tests,. 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.”

This makes us sooooo happy! We can only hope the remission continues for her — and it sounds like it will.

Is there anything science can't do?? Amazeballs!!

[Image via Christine Chardo Photography for The Tiny Sparrow Foundation.]

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