Researchers edit HIV genes out of immune cells

Posted on 23 Mar 2016 at 2:25pm
Kamel Khalili

Kamel Khalili, a lead researcher in the study.

Temple University researchers have successfully edited HIV cells out of a patient’s infected immune cells, according to study results published in Nature Scientific Reports.

The researchers used the gene editing tool known as CRISPR/Cas9 to clear out the entire HIV-1 genome from a patient’s infected immune cells in a petri dish, they said.

“Not only did this remove the viral DNA, it did so permanently. What’s more, because this microscopic genetic system remained within the cell, it staved off further infections when particles of HIV-1 tried to sneak their way back in from unedited cells,” according to Gizmodo.

While the virus was not removed, the “technique successfully lowered the viral load in the patient’s extracted cells.”

“[These findings] demonstrate the effectiveness of our gene editing system in eliminating HIV from the DNA of CD4 T-cells and, by introducing mutations into the viral genome, permanently inactivating its replication,” Temple geneticist Kamel Khalili said in a statement. “Further, they show that the system can protect cells from re-infection and that the technology is safe for the cells, with no toxic effects.”

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