The news that researchers at UCLA have modified HIV to attack cancer cells both thrills and frightens me. But it's certainly of extreme interest:
The UCLA AIDS Institute scientists genetically altered HIV and folded it into an envelope made of another virus called sindbis, which typically infects insects and birds. That turned the altered HIV into a missile that hunted down metastasized melanoma cells in the lungs of living mice.It's worth reminding ourselves that medicine walks the narrow passage between harm and healing a lot more often than we like to think. The best weapons are, after all, weapons.
"People might wonder if it's scary to use HIV as a therapy," said Irving Chen, who led the UCLA team. "But in actuality we have completely removed 80 percent of the virus. So really it's just a carrier."