Thursday, June 19, 2008

Virus Traps

This is a fairly old idea, but it is clever enough that I thought I would pass it on.

Red Blood cells have no nucleus and therefore lack the metabolic pathways necessary to pass along a virus. For this reason, viruses typically don't mess with them and choose other cell types. They do so by attaching to cell surface receptors only found on other cell types. For example HIV attaches to CD4 on the surface of T cells. It is however possible to genetically alter red blood cells to have a whole bunch of CD4 on their surface. Any HIV that enters these cells will not be able to reproduce.

Therefore injecting a whole bunch of altered red blood cells into a person would lead to much of the HIV entering cells it cannot reproduce in. The blood cells would act as a trap for viruses substantially lowering the amount of HIV in the blood. This is still speculation at this point, but it works on a virus in mice.

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