Medical premiere: HIV has been cured in animals for the first time
The “feasibility and efficiency” of removing the HIV-1 provirus was demonstrated by using a gene-editing technique named CRISPR, according to the Independent. Though some practical problems do exist, their work might be an important step towards carrying out clinical trials of the technique in humans.
For the study, some of the mice have been “humanised” by being given some of our immune cells, according to the journal Molecular Therapy. In these animals, “successful proviral excision was detected … in the spleen, lungs, heart, colon, and brain after a single intravenous injection” of the gene-editing protein.
However, apparent breakthroughs in animal models often stumble upon problems later in the process of developing a treatment for humans. Despite this, the researchers from Temple University and Pittsburgh University in the US, wrote in the journal that this type of genome editing “provides a promising cure for HIV-1/AIDS”.
“Here, we demonstrate the feasibility and efficiency of excising the HIV-1 provirus in three different animal models,” they wrote.
“Excision of HIV-1 proviral DNA by [this method in a living animal] in solid tissues/organs can be achieved … [in] a significant step toward human clinical trials.”
Dr Wenhui Hu, from Temple University, told the Daily Mail:“We confirmed the data from our previous work and have improved the efficiency of our gene editing strategy.
“We also show that the strategy is effective in two additional mouse models, one representing acute infection in mouse cells and the other representing chronic, or latent, infection in human cells.”