Could this be the final cure to HIV?
As scientist deletes HIV virus from the Human DNA for the very first time
Scientists used a DNA-snipping enzyme called Cas9 to cut out the virus
The cell's gene repair machinery then takes over, soldering the loose ends
of the genome back together – resulting in a virus-free cell Process could
also be a cure for other latent infections, researchers say
'It's an exciting discovery, but not ready to go into the clinic,' said Dr Khalili
The moment the HIV virus enters the human cell, it remains there forever
It inserts its deadly genome permanently into its victims' DNA, forcing them
to always require medical treatment for the rest of their life.
This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS,' said Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple.
'It's an exciting discovery, but it's not yet ready to go into the clinic. It's a proof of concept that we're moving in the right direction,' he added,
The low level replication of HIV-1 makes patients more likely to suffer from diseases usually associated with ageing,' Dr Khalili said.
These include cardiomyopathy – a weakening of the heart muscle – bone disease, kidney disease, and neurocognitive disorders.
'These problems are often exacerbated by the toxic drugs that must be taken to control the virus,' Dr Khalili added.
Researchers based the two-part HIV-1 editor on a system that evolved as a bacterial defence mechanism to protect against infection.
Dr Khalili's lab engineered a 20-nucleotide strand of gRNA to target the HIV-1 DNA and paired it with a DNA-sniping enzyme called Cas9 and used to edit the human genome.
'We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies,' Dr Khalili said.
'We want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patient. That will cure AIDS. I think this technology is the way we can do it.'