Scientists have now made a significant step and one step closer to finding a cure for HIV, after using CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tool and successfully remove the virus from the genomes of living mice for the first time ever.
Scientists from the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Temple University have erased HIV DNA from the genomes of living mice by the combination of CRISPR gene-editing technology and drug therapy(a therapeutic treatment called LASER ART), and they published a journal Nature Communications on Tuesday.
As of now for the millions of people infected with HIV and the best way to manage the disease is Antiretroviral therapy (ART), unfortunately, it can’t cure the HIV, it can only lower the amount of HIV Virus Replication in the body to the undetected areas. There are more people rely on these kinds of expensive drugs for decades. In 2017 the WHO (World Health Organization) summarized that of 36.9 million people living with HIV, 21.7 million were taking antiretroviral therapy(ART).
Removing HIV from an infected person’s body is so hard because once the virus infects the cell, the virus genome combines with the host genome and then it becomes part of our DNA. The Virus attacks the Humans immune and. If HIV is not treated properly, it can turn into AIDS, the late stage of HIV, it may badly damages the immune system.
CRISPR-Cas9 is a gene editing tool that’s been boasted as a breakthrough technology and it helped to cure genetic diseases. It gives researches to change the DNA of an organism, so they can remove or change its genetics.
What the study did
Researchers used mice with infused human immune cells that HIV infects. in 3 separate experiments, the mice have given three injections a slow-release version of the standard HIV drug ART and a CRISPR protein which will find and cuts infected genome HIV.
After four weeks, the researchers dispensed CRISPR into the mice by packaging the protein inside of a completely separate virus, called adeno-associated virus(AAV). It acts as a carrier and increasing the circulation of CRISPR Proteins. So CRISPR Protein helped to find and cut out all of the HIV DNA, which helped to prevent replicating and rebounding.
After 8 weeks the mice were taken off of ART, and then searched for traces of HIV genetic materials. After eight ART-free weeks, CRISPR lacked detectable amounts of HIV in any of the tissues.