Using HIV to cure cancer?

COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Cold facts about HIV/AIDS in South Carolina: The Palmetto State is ranked 10 in the Nation for AIDS cases. There are more cases of AIDS infections in people under 30 than any other State. More than 20 percent of people are not aware they have the virus.

Since its discovery in 1981, there have been an estimated 25 million AIDS/HIV related deaths worldwide. The very disease that has taken millions of lives may be the cure for another ailment which affects millions of people: Cancer.

After 20 years, the University of Pennsylvania researchers say have found a way to engineer a patient TMs T-cells to destroy the tumors which are linked to chronic lymphocyte leukemia. The trial exceeded our wildest imagination, said Dr. Carl June, one of the lead researchers in the study.

According to Dr. June, the process includes drawing blood from the patient, and extracting the T-cells, at which point a modified harmless version of HIV was added to the cells, and injected back into the patients in the study. Once back in the body, the modified cells act as serial killers, which attacked and destroyed at least 1,000 cancer cells in the 3 test cases.

Dr. June said that the treatment could do away with bone marrow transplantation, which is the current treatment for leukemia.

The study reports that there was no immediate reaction after the re-infusion, however, after 2 weeks, flu symptoms were then noticed, a sign that the treatment was working. A year after the study, 2 of the 3 are cancer free, and the third is showing improvements.

Researches say that the process appears safe, however, needs more testing, which is planned using 4 additional patients before moving to a larger phase trial. The findings of the study were published in theNew England Journal of Medicine.

Although it may be an encouraging sign in the battle against cancer, is there any concern that the treatment includes injecting a different potentially deadly disease into the body? Would you elect for this treatment in yourself or a family member? Tell us your thoughts by leaving a comment here, or on our Face Book page.