Treatment helps rebuild AIDS-ravaged immune systems
January 26, 1997
Web posted at: 8:30 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Jeff Levine
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Researchers are having some success restoring the savaged immune systems in patients infected with the AIDS virus.
The encouraging findings were presented Sunday at a scientific meeting in Washington.
It's known that hitting the AIDS virus hard with potent drug combinations early in the disease can help people live longer and better. But a new study of 53 men and women suggests that this kind of treatment can partially restore the immune system as well.
After the initial onslaught of the AIDS virus, researchers say the immune system never gets back to full vigor. However, in the study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, an increase in a type of white cell called CD4 was associated with an improved ability to fight disease after 12 weeks of treatment.
Interestingly, researchers say, some white cells that had been exposed to the virus, as well as some that had not, multiplied more rapidly after therapy.
Scientists stress this is not the basis for developing a cure. What it suggests is a way to stabilize a damaged immune system and possibly prevent a downward spiral to AIDS.
Researchers are also trying immune-boosting drugs like Interleukin-2 along with the current combinations in an attempt to revitalize immunity in AIDS patients.
Again, the findings are preliminary. Further study is needed.
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