Researchers One Step Closer to Find Cure for HIV

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Khalili said they wanted to see whether the new long-acting, slow-effective release therapy could suppress HIV replication long enough for the gene editing and gene therapy-delivery system to completely rid cells of viral DNA.

"Our study shows that treatment to suppress HIV replication and gene editing therapy, when given sequentially, can eliminate HIV from cells and organs of infected animals", said Dr. Kamel Khalili of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at LKSOM, who is also a senior investigator on the study. From there, they used a stepped-up kind of antiretroviral therapy, or ART, which is what current HIV patients take to curtail the virus' spread.

The team is now starting to test the technique in macaque monkeys and hope to begin human clinical trials by summer 2020.

Breakthrough research from the University of Nebraska Medical Center has the ability to potentially change millions of lives all around the world.

"The big message of this work is that it takes both CRISPR-Cas9 and virus suppression through a method such as LASER ART, administered together, to produce a cure for HIV infection", Khalili said in a statement. The method was found useful in wiping out the virus from mice genomes, and researchers are looking towards possible human clinical trials by next year.

Using a gene-editing tool like CRISPR to clear out an infectious disease may seem unusual, but HIV is a retrovirus that embeds itself within DNA as a means to replicate. This is of particular use in this instance as the antiretroviral drug can be stored in nanocrystals, slowly releasing the drug where the virus is found.

The next step is for the company to enter into clinical trials with its HIV-1 targeted CRISPR platform, giving Excision BioTherapeutics the first effort to fully remove/excise the HIV-1 genome from all human cells and tissues.

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The results were published online July 2 in the journal Nature Communications. They were able to control the release and metabolism of the drug which allowed it to suppress virus replication for longer period of time.

Eight weeks following the last administration of LASER ART and five weeks after the single CRISPR treatment, the animals were observed for evidence of viral rebound.

"Over the years, we have looked at HIV as an infectious disease".

The CRISPR-LASER ART combination is now being testing on non-human primates. Jonathan Stoye, a virologist at the Francis Crick Institute in London, who was not involved with the study, wants to know why the treatment didn't work in more of the mice, for example.

In rats and mice, they showed that the gene editing system could effectively excise large fragments of HIV DNA from infected cells, significantly impacting viral gene expression. However, gene editing also can not completely eliminate HIV on its own.

In a remarkable achievement, researches have managed to eliminate the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from infected mice, a significant landmark which could go a long way in helping find a cure for a disease that was a death sentence a two decades ago. The researchers now believed they have solved the problem.

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