Scientists at the Temple University School of Medicine in the USA claim that they have successfully managed to remove the HIV virus from cultured human cells for the first time. The experiment that has achieved the feat are detailed in a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released on July 21st. The discovery is a “proof of concept” that HIV can be removed from a patient with the potential for a permanent cure.
“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.” says Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple
The research was carried out on the most common strain of HIV, HIV-1, and to remove it from human cells a DNA-cutting enzyme known as nuclease was used with a targeting strand of guide RNA (gRNA). In combination those two things were able to track down the virus genome and remove it from the human cells. The medical school is hoping that they will be able to start clinical trials in the near future and are really optimistic about the prospects of using such a discovery to eliminate and cure AIDS.
“We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies. We want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patient. That will cure AIDS. I think this technology is the way we can do it,” stated Khalili.
Image courtesy of J Roberto Trujillo/Wikipedia