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Science / Medicine : Decoy Molecule May Fight AIDS

February 19, 1990|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

A genetically engineered decoy molecule that binds to the AIDS virus before it infects new cells is non-toxic and may provide a new approach to fighting the deadly disease, according to two reports published last week.

Treatment using the decoy molecule, called recombinant CD4, blocks the AIDS virus from attaching to certain white blood cells and infecting them, according to the reports in the Annals of Internal Medicine by two separate multi-center trials.

Researchers believe that the AIDS virus works by attaching itself to CD4, which is a molecule on the white blood cells. By adding recombinant CD4 to the body's immunological system, the drug may work as a sponge, soaking up the virus and preventing it from infecting new cells.

Researchers said that CD4 looks promising, but that they must develop approaches to target the virus in two ways: first, by preventing infection of new cells and second, by ridding the cells of the virus.

"The bottom line is, we established safety," said Dr. Robert Schooley of Massachusetts General Hospital. The group is now trying to establish the ideal dosage of CD4.

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