LONDON ¿ The gene therapy company Oxford Biomedica plc, of Oxford, released further data on the anti-HIV gene therapeutic ImmStat, showing the synthetic derivative of HIV can carry anti-HIV genes to the CD4 peripheral blood lymphocytes, the cells the natural virus infects.

This furthers Oxford Biomedica¿s goal of producing a population of CD4 cells that are resistant to HIV replication, thereby breaking the cycle of HIV replication in the immune system. That could prevent those who are HIV positive from going on to develop AIDS.

ImmStat is a derivative of HIV, which is designed to deliver a set of RNA molecules that disrupt the replication cycle of HIV in a number of different ways. In addition to its potential as a treatment for HIV, the development of a synthetic version of HIV could help get over many of the production problems that have held back the use of HIV as a gene transfer vector. ¿ Nuala Moran