by Ben Daviss
A multidisciplinary team of medical scientists from the University of Nebraska and Temple University’s medical school have, for the first time, eradicated the HIV virus from infected animals.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
The infection has been incurable, in part, because HIV weaves its own DNA into that of host organisms, where it hides. Drugs have been able to suppress HIV’s genetic expression, but that only holds the symptoms at bay. Gene editing has been able to snip out some portions of HIV DNA, but the technique is imprecise and it doesn’t remove the infection or cure AIDS.
The new approach combines the latest in gene editing skills with long-acting, slow-release anti-HIV drugs with a new chemical structure. The new drugs are crafted as nanocrystals that target cells where HIV is likely to lurk. Once there, the drugs linger for weeks, suppressing HIV’s ability to replicate while state-of-the-art gene editing continued to find and eradicate HIV’s DNA.
Used in mice, the combination treatment eradicated HIV virus in about a third of the animals.
Researchers think that human clinical trials could begin by 2021.
TRENDPOST: Genetic engineering and more sophisticated drugs will turn HIV into a curable infection by 2025.