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Gene-editing Technique Could Cure HIV

Shared by Radhika Narayanan | 31 4 1 | about 2 years ago

For the first time since the start of the AIDS epidemic, it appears scientists are on the verge of a cure.

Antiretroviral drugs do such a good job of suppressing the AIDS virus and keeping it from reproducing, that levels of HIV are virtually undetectable in infected individuals.

But the memory of the virus always remains in human T-lymphocytes — immune system cells that are the target of the virus. These reservoirs can spring to life and begin churning out the AIDS pathogen the moment antiretroviral drugs are stopped.

Now, researchers appear to have found a way to eliminate the viral reservoirs from cells altogether, so they can never reproduce.

Scientists have engineered a gene-editing technique called CRISPR/Cas9 to cut out the viral DNA, effectively curing the disease.

“The excision molecules that we have developed inactivate a large population of … the cells containing the virus and then it’s basically dropped — the virus replication — almost 90 percent in … patients or even [in] infected cells in the lab,” said Kamel Khalili, lead researcher and chair at the Department of Neuroscience at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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Categories Digital Biology & Genetics Integrated Omics

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