Scientists at Temple Unoversity’s School of Medicine, have achieved, what could be, one of the most path breaking discovery in human history. Scientists have been successful in removing HIV virus from cultured human cells.
The HIV-1 virus has proved to be tenacious, inserting its genome permanently into its victims’ DNA, forcing patients to take a lifelong drug regimen to control the virus and prevent a fresh attack. Now, a team of Temple University School of Medicine researchers has designed a way to snip out the integrated HIV-1 genes for good.
Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple University, said :
This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS. It’s an exciting discovery, but it’s not yet ready to go into the clinic. It’s a proof of concept that we’re moving in the right direction.
In a study published July 21 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Khalili and colleagues detail how they created molecular tools to delete the HIV-1 proviral DNA. When deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA) hunt down the viral genome and excise the HIV-1 DNA. From there, the cell’s gene repair machinery takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together – resulting in virus-free cells.
Dr. Khalili said,
Since HIV-1 is never cleared by the immune system, removal of the virus is required in order to cure the disease.
The research shows that these molecular tools also hold promise as a therapeutic vaccine; cells armed with the nuclease-RNA combination proved impervious to HIV infection.
You can read about the discovery, in detail, here.