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Scientists Explore Possible New Way to Fight AIDS

A naturally occurring molecule saves vital immune system cells from cellular suicide during the onslaught of the AIDS virus and might //help keep the body's natural defenses working in HIV-infected people, a study found.

The findings represent a potential new avenue to fight the effects of the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, according to U.S. National Institutes of Health scientists whose work was published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Paolo Lusso and colleagues at the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases looked at the role played by interleukin 7 in averting the death of T cells, a kind of white blood cell important to the immune system.

Interleukin 7 is a substance important in maintaining proper functioning of the immune system.

AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981. About 40 million people now live with HIV, with sub-Saharan Africa hardest hit.

Lusso expressed "reasonable optimism" that treatment involving interleukin 7 may benefit people with AIDS, a disease for which no cure exists.

"I don't think one solution will be applicable to all the patients. It's possible that IL-7 (interleukin 7) may benefit some patients and do nothing in other cases," Lusso said in an interview

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