Researchers One Step Closer to Find Cure for HIV

Ученые удалили все следы ВИЧ из тела очеловеченных мышей

Ученые удалили все следы ВИЧ из тела очеловеченных мышей

"(The study) marks a critical step toward the development of a possible cure for human HIV infection", according to a UNMC press release.

If their methods continue to prove successful, clinical trials could follow as soon as next summer, he said.

Current HIV treatment involves daily, lifelong antiretroviral therapy (ART) which suppresses the virus' ability to replicate, but doesn't eliminate the virus from the body. Its effectiveness in protecting humans from the virus is still unknown.

While HIV treatment has made vast strides since its discovery in the 80s, there still isn't a cure. If it is stopped, HIV rebounds, renewing replication and fueling the development of AIDS. CRISPR-Cas9 is a gene editing tool that's been hailed as a breakthrough technology, as it has the potential of curing genetic diseases.

His team used a technique called CRISPR-Cas9 that can snip faulty DNA with a harmless virus.

It targets viral "sanctuaries" - maintaining HIV replication at low levels for extended periods of time. The drug alone is long-lasting, and infected patients only need to take it at least once a year.

In this therapy, antiretroviral drugs are placed in nanocrystals that travel to tissues where HIV is likely to be lying dormant.

From there, the nanocrystals, stored within cells for weeks, slowly release the drug. Overall, it reduces the need for ART administration over time. Once infection was established, mice were treated with LASER ART and subsequently with CRISPR-Cas9. The treatment worked on 9 of the 23 mice involved.

However, in the last third, where researchers applied the two-step approach, they discovered that the mice genome had wholly got rid of HIV.

"The big message of this work is that it takes both CRISPR-Cas9 and virus suppression through a method such as LASER ART, administered together, to produce a cure for HIV infection", Dr. Khalili said.

Just over a generation ago the world was in the grip of AIDS hysteria.

Earlier this year health secretary Matt Hancock promised by 2030 there would be no new cases of HIV in England.

"We have to make sure that they're safe, that they're effective and that they don't have the side effects because when we move into patients we want to make sure that that first patient tested is experiencing something that will be safe for them", president and CEO of UNeMed Corp., Michael Dixon said.

UNMC leaders of the research, Dr. Howard Gendelman and Margaret Larson, director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, said the groundbreaking discovery would not have been possible without the "extraordinary" team effort that included virologists, immunologists, molecular biologists, pharmacologists and pharmaceutical experts. By using CRISPR in combination with those drugs, it may actually be possible to remove the virus completely, reducing the danger of living with HIV.

For the new study, Dr. Khalili and colleagues combined their gene editing system with a recently developed therapeutic strategy known as long-acting slow-effective release (LASER) ART. LASER ART was co-developed by Dr. Gendelman and Benson Edagwa, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at UNMC.

Doctor Gendelman said, "The idea here is that we can generate genetic material that can find the virus in a latent state, bin to that virus and then use scissors, cutting enzymes to cut the virus out and eliminate completely". The researchers now believed they have solved the problem.

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