In a breakthrough, scientists snip out HIV virus for good
Washington: Scientists have designed a way to snip out the integrated HIV-1 genes for the very first time. This is a very exciting discovery because the HIV-1 virus inserts its genome permanently into a patient’s DNA, forcing them to take anti-retroviral drugs life-long.
With this breakthrough discovery, researchers have found a way to snip out the integrated HIV-1 genes. Researchers from Temple University School of Medicine have revealed 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. Kamel Khalili, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple, said this is one important step on the path towards 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,” he added.
The researchers said since HIV-1 is never cleared by the immune system, removal of the virus is required in order to cure the disease. Drugs can control the virus, but the infection can recur any time if treatment is interrupted.
The Temple University research shows that their molecular tools hold promise as a therapeutic vaccine; cells armed with the nuclease-RNA combination proved impervious to HIV infection. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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