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Being Alive

TOWN HALL MEETING: The Think Tank On Immune Restoration


Being Alive 1993 Apr 5: 6

For the second time, Project Inform invited the 30 top names in AIDS research around the world and we placed them in rooms, without the media, without the public, and literally forcing them to work on some very specific narrowly-defined problem The problem is this: "Is it possible to rebuild the immune system in later-stage disease"? Most of the AIDS research work that we see has been focused on slowing the progression of the disease, and that makes sense. But all of that work really doesn't do much for somebody who's got under 50 T-cells. There's little or no attention being given in most places to the issue of repairing the immune system.

The assignment at this most recent meeting was as bold and as direct as we could make it for them. We gave them a choice of two plans to work on. We asked: "What could you do within 12 months to save the lives of people who have lost their immune system? What can you do given 36 months of time and perhaps a little more resources?" And here is what these top researchers came up with: - Nutritional support. When malnutrition sets in, the immune system collapses. Don't tolerate weight loss! - Maximize the anti-viral coverage with combination therapy.

- Expansion of CD8 cells as well as CD4 cells.

- Continue preventing and managing opportunistic infection. That goes without saying but has limits by itself.

- Preserving cells by cryo-preservation (see below).

- Replacing lost chemicals (see below).

- Transferring cells from healthy uninfected people to sick people. (see below) The most striking thing about this whole plan is (a) that the researchers all agree that this is what ought to be done, and (b) it's absolutely not what we're doing in the United States today.

For the 36 month plan, the areas of research that need to be pursued include thymus transplants, stem cell transplant and gene therapy. 


Information in this article was accurate in April 5, 1993. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.