Scientists completely eliminate HIV in animals
A new study claims that scientists cured HIV in animals with gene-editing. The research was done by University of Pittsburgh and Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Philadelphia’s Temple University. They involved a ‘humanized’ model, as mice were infused with human cells through transplant, and these cells had HIV.
Scientists used the CRISPR technique to remove HIV DNA from infected individuals, implanted them in mice, and then figured that they can stop the growth of HIV in animals. This was the first time that they could completely take out the infection and it will not be tried on humans.
Dr Wenhui Hu led this study at LKSOM and it was based on a previously incomplete trial done by the same team. One year back, they were able to remove most of the HIV-1 from genome. However, this time they could remove the infection from every tissue.
A “promising cure” for HIV
Dr Wenhui Hu stated that their research was more comprehensive in this trial. They took inspiration from their previous work and that has helped them better their efficiency in the gene-editing strategy. The strategy followed by them was effective with two more animal models – one represented acute infection in the animal’s cells and the other was chronic infection in human’s cells.
There were three groups of HIV in animals that were tested by them. The first group was infused with HIV-1, the second had EcoHIV, and the third was humanized mice infused with human cells with HIV-1. The scientists discovered that HIV-1 was genetically inactive after treating the first set of mice. There was a reduction in the RNA of viral genes from 60 to 95%. The second group from healed of EcoHIV by 96%. The last group used one treatment of CRISPR and removed the infection completely from the organs and tissues.
Kamel Khalili, the director of neurovirology at LKSOM, co-leaded the study. He stated that their next move is to repeat their research in primates, as the animal model will be more suitable for HIV infection. They will further reflect how much of HIV-1 DNA can be eliminated in the latently infected T cells along with other cells infected with HIV, including the brain cells.
We hope these researches of HIV in animals get stronger with time, and it helps our researchers cure infected people. The development is commendable and it is sure to make difference to the majority.