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UC Davis researchers exploring gene therapy to fight AIDS
Date:12/5/2008

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) The apparent success of a case in which German doctors cured a man of AIDS using a bone marrow transplant comes as no surprise to Gerhard Bauer, a UC Davis stem cell researcher. Bauer has been working for more than 10 years on a similar cure for AIDS based on replacing the devastated immune system of an HIV-infected patient with stem cells that have been engineered to resist human immunodeficiency syndrome.

Bauer plans to present the preliminary results of his latest research at the 50th annual meeting of the American Society for Hematology in San Francisco on Sunday, December 6, 2008, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Moscone Center. He and his UC Davis research team will present a poster detailing the development of a mouse model that allows pre-clinical testing of their new gene-therapy protocol, which they hope will pave the way for human clinical trials within five years.

"The case in Germany was a natural gene-therapy experiment," explained Bauer, an assistant professor of hematology and oncology and director of a good manufacturing practice (GMP) laboratory now under construction in the new UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures in Sacramento. "We are working on a similar approach to genetically engineer a patient's own stem cells in a way that mimics this natural immunity. The German case offers further proof that genetic engineering provides a pathway to success, and gene therapy offers real hope as a cure for AIDS."

Last month, German doctors reported that they had cured a 42-year-old of acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. The patient, an American living in Berlin, also had leukemia, which is best treated by a bone marrow transplant. Thinking they might be able to cure the man of both diseases, the physicians gave him a bone marrow transplant from a person with natural immunity to HIV. The patient has now lived for 20 months since the transplant without any detectable traces of HIV.

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Contact: Charles Casey
charles.casey@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu
916-734-9048
University of California - Davis - Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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