Gene editing could deliver HIV cure: 4 things to know

Brian Zimmerman - Print  | 

Researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia have made strides toward an HIV cure by way of gene editing, according to a study published in Scientific Reports and covered by Gizmag.

Here are four things to know about genetic editing and HIV:

1. Finding a cure for HIV has proven problematic. Some recent attempts have implemented a "shock and kill" approach, which involves reactivating the virus to incite a strong immune response to kill it, but no study has yielded positive results for this method.

2. The approach from researchers at Temple involves the use of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to extract the virus from human DNA. The technology uses a guide RNA to identify HIV in the DNA and a nuclease to remove the virus from the genetic sequence. The technique successfully eliminated the virus in human cells grown in culture.

3. The researchers also checked to determine if the technology had any off-target effects or generated any toxicity. The group, with the aid of ultra-deep-whole-genome sequencing, determined that no such adverse effects had transpired.

4. Over 35 million people worldwide are infected with HIV and infections are growing at a rate of 2 million per year. So, while antiviral medications effectively control the virus, a full cure will be needed to eliminate this massive public health problem.

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