Fighting a virus with a virus: a dynamic model for HIV-1 therapy

Math Biosci. 2003 Oct;185(2):191-203. doi: 10.1016/s0025-5564(03)00091-9.


A mathematical model examined a potential therapy for controlling viral infections using genetically modified viruses. The control of the infection is an indirect effect of the selective elimination by an engineered virus of infected cells that are the source of the pathogens. Therefore, this engineered virus could greatly compensate for a dysfunctional immune system compromised by AIDS. In vitro studies using engineered viruses have been shown to decrease the HIV-1 load about 1000-fold. However, the efficacy of this potential treatment for reducing the viral load in AIDS patients is unknown. The present model studied the interactions among the HIV-1 virus, its main host cell (activated CD4+ T cells), and a therapeutic engineered virus in an in vivo context; and it examined the conditions for controlling the pathogen. This model predicted a significant drop in the HIV-1 load, but the treatment does not eradicate HIV. A basic estimation using a currently engineered virus indicated an HIV-1 load reduction of 92% and a recovery of host cells to 17% of their normal level. Greater success (98% HIV reduction, 44% host cells recovery) is expected as more competent engineered viruses are designed. These results suggest that therapy using viruses could be an alternative to extend the survival of AIDS patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Computer Simulation
  • HIV Infections / therapy*
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Organisms, Genetically Modified
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / genetics
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / pathogenicity
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus / physiology*
  • Viral Load