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World first: Researchers completely remove HIV from mice
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By: Catharine Paddock PhD   |  Email:

Could a cure for HIV be in sight? New research has revealed how a sequence of two treatments could completely remove the virus in mice.
scientist working in lab with DNA structure on a laptop screen
Scientists have edited mice's genomes and removed HIV completely.

The first treatment is a long-acting slow-effective release (LASER) form of antiretroviral therapy.

The second treatment involves the removal of viral DNA using a gene editing tool called CRISPR-Cas9.

In a recent Nature Communications paper, the researchers describe how they tested the two-step approach in a mouse model of human HIV.

Of the mice that received LASER antiretroviral therapy followed by gene editing, the "virus was eliminated from cell and tissue reservoirs in up to a third of infected animals," note the authors.

In contrast, treating mice with either LASER antiretroviral therapy or gene editing — but not both — "resulted in viral rebound in 100% of treated infected animals."

"The big message of this work," says co-senior study author Kamel Khalili, Ph.D., of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (LKSOM) at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, "is that it takes both CRISPR-Cas9 and virus suppression through a method such as LASER [antiretroviral therapy], administered together, to produce a cure for HIV infection."

Khalili is a professor in LKSOM's department of neuroscience and its chair. He is also the director of LKSOM's Center for Neurovirology and of its Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center.

HIV can hide in a dormant state

According to the most recent figures from UNAIDS, worldwide, 36.9 million people were living with HIV in 2017. In the same year, around 1.8 million contracted the virus.

World first: Researchers completely remove HIV from mice

By: Catharine Paddock PhD
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