CRSPR therapy safe, yet ineffective against HIV, research suggests

Mackenzie Bean - Print  | 

Chinese scientists used genetically modified stem cells to treat a 27-year-old man with HIV and cancer, according to a research paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The 27-year-old patient was diagnosed with HIV and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2016. The man received chemotherapy and antiretroviral therapy, along with a stem cell transplant. Researchers used CRISPR to modify the donor stem cells to be HIV-resistant before completing the transplant, reports Bloomberg.

While the patient's HIV was not cured, his cancer is in remission and his DNA does not appear to be damaged. The study suggests that such CRISPR-based therapies may be safe, although most health experts and researchers are still highly cautious of using the technique on humans.  

The research comes about six months after U.K. scientists reported "sustained remission" in an HIV patient who received donor stem cells that naturally contained the HIV-resistant mutation. Researchers first used the stem cell technique 12 years ago on a man named Timothy Ray Brown, who is still HIV-free.

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