In the past few years, there have been rumors of babies born with HIV that were actually cured, but the disease came back later. Scientists from all around the globe have been working on an AIDS cure for decades, and scientists from the Temple University may have finally succeeded.
HIV\AIDS is becoming a bigger problem every year with more than 37 million people living with the virus, which claimed more than 25 million lives since the 80s. There are many antiretroviral drugs that can control the disease, but there is no definitive cure. Scientists were able to isolate the HIV virus from human DNA with the CRISPR\Cas9 technique previously, but the recent study managed to completely eliminate the virus from them. Dr. Kamel Khalili, the lead researcher on the study, is very excited about the results.
The CRISPR method detects HIV cells in their T-cell genome. Once the DNA is edited out, the loose cells are reconnected to the cell’s own DNA repair system, which leaves the previously infected cells virus-free and safe from a new infection.
Although there are many HIV\AIDS drugs that can prolong the life of the patients, there is no cure for the disease. “Antiretroviral drugs can control the infection, but once the patients get off them, the risk of HIV replication is increased,” says Khalili. This is a concern because the HIV copies significantly increase the risk of AIDS. Dr. Khalili and his team have managed to disable the activation, and the study may be a base for a future HIV\AIDS cure.
According to Khalili, the successful gene editing technique can lead to a cure for the infection. The next step of the research is to see how effective the gene therapy is in animals – if it’s passes the test, it should qualify for clinical trial.