For the first time, the HIV virus has been successfully eliminated from cultured human cells by Temple University researchers. The HIV virus attaches itself to permanently to victims’ DNA. Patients then have to take antiretroviral drugs for life to control the virus and prevent a fresh attack.
The possible cure that Temple University researchers have designed snips out the HIV genes from the DNA in cells. The process uses a DNA snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called a guide RNA. The combination of these two hunt down the viral genome and take out the HIV DNA. From there, the cells repair themselves resulting in virus free cells.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 33 million people have HIV worldwide. So while this is a great step in the journey to finding a permanent cure for HIV, it is not quite ready for clinical use yet. Because the virus is known to mutate, treatment would have to be individualized for each patient, depending on his or her unique viral sequences.
Regardless, the research team is determined to find a way to make this strategy work and find a cure for HIV/AIDS.