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Scientists have genetically engineered stem cells to develop into cells of the immune system known as cytotoxic T lymphocytes or killer T cells. These cells can detect HIV infected cells and destroy them. The HIV virus however, eventually overwhelms the immune system as there are not enough T cells to get rid of the virus entirely. The researchers in the study were able to produce T cells that specifically target cells containing HIV proteins in a living organism.

According to lead investigator Scott G. Kitchen, "We believe that this is the first step in developing a more aggressive approach in correcting the defects in the human T cell responses that allow HIV to persist in infected people." In studies with mice, the researchers demonstrated that the engineered stem cells were capable of not only developing into T cells, but also traveling to HIV infected tissues and organs in order to combat the virus.

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