In what could be a huge milestone in the eventual eradication of AIDs in humans, scientists have managed to remove the HIV virus from mouse cells using CRISPR technology. This is a breakthrough that could have huge implications for eventually curing the disease completely.
At present, patients are treated using anti-retroviral medications. These medications are not only highly toxic but they also have a lot of unintended consequences. What’s more, due to the existence of latent reservoirs, in which HIV proviral DNA integrates in the host genome, the HIV viral load can rebounds and cause a catastrophic resurgence of HIV/AIDS as well.
The application of CRISPR/Cas9 however, means that the exact points of problematic genetic code can be removed.
Potentially, this means that the technology could be used to remove all the afflicted DNA within the human body. Why is this important? Well, because you would literally be nipping the problem in the bud and preventing the virus from making any copies of itself.
Speaking on the topic, Dr. Khalili, who co-authored the study, said:
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 elimination of HIV-1 DNA in latently infected T cells and other sanctuary sites for HIV-1, including brain cells. Our eventual goal is a clinical trial in human patients.
Scientists have already tested the technology with mice and it has succeeded. As mammals themselves, mice are only a few rungs below humans on the evolutionary ladder. So, a technology successful with mice has the potential to be successful with humans as well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.