Researchers successfully remove HIV DNA from mice and rats

Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine have successfully removed HIV DNA from animals such as mice and rats through gene editing.

In a new proof-of-concept study, a team of researchers have successfully edited HIV DNA from living mice and rats; marking a major step forward in what could be a potential strategy for curing HIV infection.
Dr Kamel Khalili, a Director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, confirmed that “we show that our gene editing technology can be effectively delivered to many organs of two small animal models and excise large fragments of viral DNA from the host cell genome.”
Read: Researchers develop a programming language for designer DNA
In layman’s terms, the breakthrough could amount to one of the biggest advancements in combating HIV infection yet. Presently, a mixture of antiretroviral drugs are used to suppress the replication of HIV DNA, but cannot altogether eliminate HIV-1 from infected cells.
In a new approach, Dr Khalili and a team of researchers demonstrated that, through their own gene editing system, they were able to excise HIV-1 from living organisms with no adverse effects.
The tests were carried out on live mice and rats who carried the disease since birth, effectively incorporating HIV DNA into their every cell and organ.
Two weeks after the team injected the gene-editing molecules (properly named CRISPR/Cas-9) into the bloodstream, researchers analysed DNA tissues owing to each animal to find significantly reduced HIV-1 DNA.
The results from the study indicate that, in future, a mixture of gene editing and antiretroviral drugs could suppress – and further eradicate – all traces of HIV-1 DNA from a patient.
The next stage for the research is to pass through a clinical trial with a larger group of animals to monitor the safety of the treatment.
Read: What‘s the deal with genetic modification?
What are your thoughts on the results of early gene editing trials? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA
Source: Lewis Katz School of Medicine