Crippled Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) could be useful in gene therapy, says Inder Verma, a gene therapy specialist at the Salk Institute in California, USA. Retroviruses, the family to which HIV belongs, are good vehicles for delivering therapeutic genes into cells of patients with genetic disorders. But while retroviruses cannot penetrate the nuclear membrane that contains chromosomes, HIV can. A weakened form of HIV was created by removing its deadly genes and this modified version was able to deliver DNA into rats without occasioning any harm (New Scientist, Vol150, No 2026).
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