A 20 year study funded by the Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy, has released information about a new treatment that utilizes HIV to combat cancer. The trial that was developed from the University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center and Perelman School of Medicine uses a strain of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to turn white blood cells, specifically T-cells, into what researchers are calling “serial killers” of tumor cells. While the initial study was only completed with three patients, the results are astounding. All three patients lost at least two pounds of a tumor; the leukemia was eradicated in two patients and reduced by 70 percent in the third. More good news is that a year later it is still gone. As the white cells killed the tumor cells, the patients experienced the fevers and aches and pains that one would expect when the body is fighting off an infection, but beyond that the side effects have been minimal. The severity of these diseases makes this study and possiblity of treatment especially important to those who are suffering. The United Nations AIDS agency reports some 25 million deaths are attributed to HIV/AIDS worldwide since its discovery in 1981. The National Cancer Institute estimated thatt over 569,000 cancer-related deaths occured in 2010 alone. In the next couple of months UPenn reports that it will admit a few more patients into the program, and coming from a family with a history of cancer I personally look forward to seeing the results.