Researchers have announced that HIV cure is near, as they have eliminated the virus from living mice. Using CRISPR gene-edit tech and LASER ART treatment, scientists from UNMC and TU stated they erased the virus’ DNA from animal genomes. The research appeared in Nature Communications journal.
Co-author Kamel Khalili of Temple University stated that it was a significant breakthrough since HIV was shown as curable now. Over 1.1 million US citizens suffer from HIV infection, which attacks immunity systems aggressively and leaves them susceptible to other illnesses. It can transform to AIDS without treatment, where the immunity system is completely shattered. Those with AIDS, only live for 3 years post-diagnosis.
ART therapy is currently used to counteract HIV. However, if stopped, HIV will come back sooner or later. However, researchers have now found a way to destroy this virus in mice which had human-like bone marrows, imitating immunity system in humans. LASER ART and CRISPR tech were used to make this happen.
The former is considered revolutionary since it can cure or treat genetic diseases. Scientists can modify DNA this way. LASER ART’s an upgraded version of ART, which keeps virus replication at bay for longer periods, as per Howard Gendelman of UNMC. The drug is stored in various nanocrystals which release drugs near virus locations. Gendelman said that the virus would be targeted extremely specifically.
The treatments were administered concurrently, with LASER ART administered for reducing HIV growth while CRISPR was used to eliminate integrated HIV genetic material. The virus was eliminated in 9 among 21 mice who underwent these tests. This treatment is now being used on primates, with a long way to go before human trials.
Gendelman stated that not all drugs successful on mice work effectively in humans due to increasing complexity, size, and more DNA. More safety and efficiency will also have to be ensured. However, researchers are hopeful about its results in primates. They intend to receive FDA approval for human trials by 2020.
Gendelman stated that they were at a turning point in human genome research, which can enhance the longevity, course, and quality of life in humans.