CRISPR Gene-Editing Technique Has Nearly Eliminated Acute HIV Infection In Living Animals

A potential cure for HIV inches a step closer. New research has shown that it’s possible to ‘cut away’ the virus from cells in the body.

The virus was “almost entirely eliminate[d]” from infected human tissue in mice by researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. They’re calling it a “promising cure” for HIV.

“The next stage would be to repeat the study in primates, a more suitable animal model where HIV infection induces disease, in order to further demonstrate the elimination of HIV-1 DNA,” Kamel Khalili, co-senior study investigator, told Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News.

“Our eventual goal is a clinical trial in human patients.”

According to the researchers:

“Here, we demonstrate the feasibility and efficiency of excising the HIV-1 provirus in three different animal models.”

“To our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate the effective excision of HIV-1 proviral DNA from the host genome in pre-clinical animal models [using this method].”

They did, however, also say that “gene delivery efficiency … remains an obstacle to overcome” in a living animal.

The research team hopes to start human trials as early as 2020.