Eight babies who were born without a working germ-fighting system had their disease corrected by a gene therapy that was made from one of the immune system’s worst enemies — HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The boys had severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome, caused by lack of a gene that helps the immune system form. Without it, babies are unable to fight off infections. It’s also known as “bubble boy disease” because of a famous case in which a boy lived in a protective bubble to shield him from germs.
The therapy uses a version of HIV that’s been altered so it cannot cause disease but can carry the needed gene into the boys’ blood cells.
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Results were published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine. The treatment was pioneered by a doctor at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.
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