There are 36 Million people all around the world who are victims of the HIV virus, out of which 1.2 Million people are from the U.S. Even though there is a constant increase in the spread of the disease, still the scientists haven’t been able to find a cure or a permanent treatment for AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). After years of hard work, the scientists have made a breakthrough in removing the HIV infection from the human affected T cells incorporated into the mice models.
Dr. Wenhui Hu from the Temple University and his team comprising of Laura H. Carnell, Won-Bin Young, and Kamel Khalili are the brainchildren behind this new discovery. The researchers have been able to excise the HIV-1 provirus using the gene editing technology named “CRISPR/Cas9.” Are you aware of what a provirus is? A provirus is nothing but an inactive type of the virus, which normally occurs when the virus is incorporated into the genes present in a cell. In case of HIV, the host cell is the CD4 cell into the DNA of which the virus integrates itself and further undergoes replication as the CD4 cells multiply.
The research team carried out the study by injecting the HIV-1 provirus into the three humanized mice models that had human immune cells included in them. The scientists reduced the RNA expression of the viral genes to a great extent and used the CRISPR/Cas9 technology on the T cells where the viruses hide in the genome of the cells until the latent stage of their lives. The virus was excised from the human cells by a single therapy injection—quadruplex sgRNAs/saCas9 AAV-DJ/8—which is an advanced version of the adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector.
After the therapy, the researchers confirmed their study by measuring the level of RNA expression of the viral genes using the live bioluminescence imaging. This is the first invention of its kind that the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing approach can be used to stop the HIV-1 multiplication as well as to remove the virus completely.
Speaking of a permanent cure, this can be a stepping stone towards the success of finding an eternal therapy against HIV.