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Scientists managed to cut out HIV virus DNA using CRISPR in mice

Plans to do the next trials on primates
cjmagowan  —  1 year ago ( May 07, 2017 )    |    Science

Using a CRISPR system, a gene editing tool designed to edit the DNA of living cells, a team of scientists led by Neurovirologist Dr. Kamel Khalili from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have successfully cut out the HIV virus DNA from the genome of infected living cells of mice. The team has been working with the gene editing technique for years and the price they were pursuing was finally paid off last year but the work won’t stop here, it’s just the beginning for man to finally grasp the cure for HIV.

The team uses three different mice in its research, The first type comes infected with the HIV virus burrowed within its system, the second one has an active infection and the third is infected with the cells grafted from a human infected cells. With the CRISPR system, the team is able to eliminate the HIV virus from the mouse and lived to tell the tale.

It’s a significant breakthrough for the Science community. Our struggle with HIV dates back many years ago, looking for the ultimate solution to the problem. Though Antiretroviral drugs helped suppressed the HIV virus from replicating, it’s temporary as Dr. Khalili pointed out:

“The current anti-retroviral therapy for HIV is very successful in suppressing replication of the virus. But that does not eliminate the copies of the virus that have been integrated into the gene, so any time the patient doesn’t take their medication the virus can rebound.”

The Excision of HIV Proviral DNA can be achieved and it does but along the way, the team is confronted with problems that needed to overcome as it stayed difficult for the efficacy of the gene delivery system on living organism in which in this case was the mice. The immune system will have to eliminate everything that looks foreign to the body, a system that HIV virus found a backdoor to hide itself to the same immune cells that’s supposed to kill it, but be

What the scientists did was, introduced these CRISPR edited genes to the mice using an adeno-associated virus as its transport vehicle which doesn’t typically trigger an immune response. As the adeno-associated virus replicates, the CRISPR edited genes can now look for the HIV infected cells and in the process was able to eliminate the HIV DNA material from the mice.

While the procedure seems positively successful, the team is also concerned with their side-effects on good DNA. As the research progress, the teams is now planning to go the next phase of trials using primates which has a closely resemblance of human genome. If these trials goes successfully, our quest for finding the cure for HIV may be just a few years away and maybe they’d become available during our lifetime.