Scientists eliminate HIV in the entire genome of lab mice for the first time EVER


Scientists eliminated HIV from the entire genome of lab mice for the first time ever using a slow-acting drug and gene-editing.The feat, revealed in a publication today, suggests this two-pronged technique could be the basis for the first universal cure in humans, with human clinical trials slated to start next summer.

Only two people have been cured of HIV, both had terminal blood cancer and underwent a risky bone marrow transplant that obliterated both diseases.But the transplant technique has not worked in anyone else - proving fatal in some - and it effectively requires that the patient have both HIV and cancer.

Now, a team spearheaded by an HIV expert in Nebraska and a gene-editing expert in Philadelphia has presented the unprecedented fruits of a five-year project: using a slow-acting drug called LASER ART that corners the virus, followed by CRISPR Cas9 gene-editing that blitzes it.

In a new paper, they reveal this approach successfully eliminated HIV from the entire genome of a third of their lab mice.


HIV is so hard to obliterate because it is a virus that infects the genome. It buries itself inside hidden reservoirs, ready to mount a resurgence at any point. A team between Philadelphia and Nebraska has shown they were able to eliminate the virus even from hard-to-access reservoirs    
Even they were surprised.

'We didn't believe it,' Dr Howard E Gendelman, Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told DailyMail.com. 

'We thought it was a fluke, a problem with the graphs; that the cells carrying HIV had died; that our assay system was wrong.'It was only after we repeated it a couple of different times,' he says, that they accepted they had hit the veritable jackpot.What's more, journals didn't believe it.

'After we got it right, we submitted it for publication and it was rejected from many different journals,' Dr Gendelman said.'They had a hard time believing HIV could be cured.'

He and his co-author (and 'best bud') Dr Kamel Khalili, of Temple University in Philadelphia, added no less than 20 supplemental figures to their paper - far more than usual - to prove that their results were not a fluke, finally getting the green light from Nature Communications.

'There was a lot of frustration, self-introspection, denials, reaffirmation, and just laborious day by day activities to prove it,' Dr Gendelman said. 

HIV is so hard to obliterate because it is a virus that infects the genome.It buries itself inside hidden reservoirs, ready to mount a resurgence at any point.

These days, we have incredibly effective drugs (called ART, or anti-retroviral therapy) that suppress the virus to such an extent that it is undetectable, and cannot be transmitted to another person.

It means people who have HIV can live a long, healthy life without the virus turning into AIDS. 

Comments