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HIV Controllers

November 22, 2010

A small minority of people can fight the HIV virus with their own immune systems. A new study identifies just a few genetic differences that set them apart from those for who the disease has progressed.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Controlling HIV. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A small minority of people infected with the HIV virus are able to successfully fight it with their own immune systems, according to immunologist Bruce Walker of the Ragon Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital.

BRUCE WALKER (Ragon Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital)
Some of them have now been infected for 30 years, have never been treated with anti-HIV medications and yet are entirely well.

HIRSHON:
He and his collaborators analyzed their genetic codes, looking for clues to what might set them apart from people whose HIV disease has progressed. This led them to chromosome 6.

WALKER:
Which is a chromosome that encodes immune function. And when we went in and did even more refined sequencing in that region, we were able to show that it came down to a handful of amino acids that made the difference between a person doing well and a person not doing well.

HIRSHON:
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.