The man who can't catch Aids

Discovery may lead to vaccine

Scientists have found a man who cannot catch the virus that causes Aids - and his blood may hold the key to developing the first vaccine. In his blood, the New Yorker, Steve Crohn, has the first known substance in the world that will defeat the HIV virus. Scientists already knew of many individuals who remain healthy for a very long time between infection with HIV and developing full blown Aids. The difference in the case of Mr Crohn and the others now identified is that they appear to be resistant to inf ection with HIV in the first place. Mr Crohn, 49, a freelance editor for Fodor's Travel Guides, and another New Yorker who also appears to be immune, were discovered by a young Glaswegian scientist, Dr Bill Paxton, of the Aaron Diamond Aids Research Center in New York. Dr Paxton and his co lleagues have found a further 23 people who, although not completely immune, show some degree of resistance to HIV infection. Many have remained free of HIV despite a history of unsafe sex with multiple sexual partners who subsequently died of Aids.

From these individuals, Dr Paxton and his colleagues have taken the white blood cells, known as CD4 cells, which are the particular target of HIV, cultured the cells in the laboratory, and tried unsuccessfully to infect them with HIV. In the case ofMr C rohn's cells, the researchers could only get the infection to "take" by flooding the cultured cells with huge amounts of virus, far more than would be present in the course of a naturally occurring form of infection. There have been indications that some people might be resistant to HIV infection, because of the chance shuffling of the genes they inherited from their parents. But this evidence is only statistical. The new research has identified specific individuals and their biochemistry to work out the precise mechanism of resistance. Dr Paxton said yesterday, "If we can determine what is protecting these people then you ca n envisage therapy or vaccine design." Dr Paxton and his colleagues have already identified one set of biochemical compounds, known as chemokines, which appear to be acting in these people to defeat HIV. These substances were first recognised only five years ago and appear to play a role in the immune system. They report their findings in the April issue of the scientific journal Nature Medicine. Conventional vaccines consist of antibodies to the infecting agent produced by the immune system. But, partly because HIV subverts the cells of the immune system itself and partly because it is highly variable, no one has succeeded in producing a vaccine against it. The chemokines Dr Paxton and his colleagues have found are not antibodies. They are involved in the "inflammatory" response, when a wound or site of infection becomes inflamed. "I do not believe that next week everybody will be injecting chemokines and curing Aids, but definitely we're on a line," Dr Paxton said. He stressed that any vaccine or treatment was still a long way off: "I'm really worried about how people will take this news - people should not give up a safe sex policy." For Mr Crohn, the thought that his blood might hold a vital secret in the battle against Aids "would be very touching to me." His partner, Jerry Greenwood, died in 1982, before the disease even had a name.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea