Cure for HIV reportedly 3 years away
A cure for HIV and AIDS reportedly could be just a few years away after scientists have been able to successfully snip away the virus from infected cells and prevent the disease from returning.
Scientists at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University are confident that within the next three years they will be able to start human trials, the UK Daily Telegraph reported.
American researchers have previously shown that it’s possible to edit genes to cut the virus from DNA cells entirely.
British experts believe that this treatment, which has only been tested in labs, would allow the body to effectively “cure itself from the inside,” the newspaper reported. Human immune cells that were tested in the labs have showed no alteration to any other part of the genetic code.
“The fact that for the first time we have been able to completely eliminate segments of the viral genome in the laboratory demonstrates that we should be able to eliminate it in the human body,” lead researcher Professor Kamel Khalili told The Telegraph.
He reiterated that based on the recent findings, clinical trials could start within the next three years.
The new technique is called Crispr/Cas9. It involves targeting the genetic code of HIV which inserts into cells, according to The Telegraph. Scientists then take the Cas9 protein and edit it so it can recognize viral code.
The patient’s blood is then taken and scientists would inject Cas9, which would then seek out the HIV virus in the cells. The protein then releases and enzyme and snips out the virus. Scientists are confident that replacing 20 percent of immune cells with genetically altered cells would be enough to cure the virus.
“It is an important step forward. This is part of a wave of research that is being done using these new techniques to attack HIV in particular but also a number of other diseases,” Britain’s Manchester University Professor Matthew Cobb told Radio 4, according to the newspaper.
According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV and about 12.8 percent of them are unaware that they have the virus.
Those infected take an antiretroviral drug to control the infection, but need to take it for the rest of their life. If they stop taking the treatment, the virus could cause AIDS.