A new study claims that scientists have managed to cure living animals of HIV using a gene-editing technique called CRISPR. The research that’s been published says US scientists have completely removed HIV DNA from human cells which were planted in mice.
This event marks the first time in history that scientists have achieved complete elimination in animals, which will soon lead to clinical trials in humans.
Scientists at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh used a ‘humanized’ model for this. They transplanted human immune cells in mice and then infected them with the virus.
This new research, led by Doctor Wenhui Hu at LKSOM, develops on the seam team’s previous research. In their previous research, they managed to delete HIV-1 from the genome of most tissues. They have now been able to eliminate the virus from every tissue roughly a year later.
“We confirmed the data from our previous work and have improved the efficiency of our gene editing strategy. We also show that the strategy is effective in two additional mouse models, one representing acute infection in mouse cells and the other representing chronic, or latent, infection in human cells.”, Doctor Hu said.
The team was able to reduce replication of HIV DNA by between 60% and 95%, according to their new finding.
Doctor Kamel Khalili explained: “During acute infection, HIV actively replicates.With EcoHIV (the mouse equivalent), we were able to investigate the ability of the CRISPR/Cas9 strategy to block viral replication and potentially prevent systemic infection.”
“The next stage would be to repeat the study in primates, a more suitable animal model where HIV infection induces disease, in order to further demonstrate the elimination of HIV-1 DNA in latently infected T-cells and other sanctuary sites for HIV-1 including brain cells,” Doctor Khalili added.
The journal Molecular Therapy published these new findings.