US researchers have found that genetically engineered Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), designed to fight other HIV viruses, can do their job more effectively than previously thought, by strengthening the immune system in AIDS patients. Even though the research involved just five people, it provided new hope both to the field of gene therapy and for treating AIDS.

AIDS, which is now a pandemic, has killed over 25 million people worldwide, since it was first discovered in December 1, 1981, making it as one of the most destructive pandemics in human history. It is estimated that more than 40 million people are infected by HIV currently, around the globe. Even though many retro-viral drugs are available for this disease, they can only control the infection and increase the life expectancy of patients, as there is no permanent cure or a vaccine to this dreaded disease.

Dr. Carl June, from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who led the study, said that the goal of this research was to establish the safety and feasibility of gene therapy in AIDS patients and its results met its objectives. He added that genetically engineered HIV provided a vaccine-like effect on the immune system of the patients, triggering an immune response that controlled the spread of HIV infection in patients, increasing their life expectancy.

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