HIV can be completely eliminated from cells using gene editing

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In what can be said as a breakthrough in medical research, HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus has been eliminated from cells in a lab test. The scientists, led by Dr Elena Herrera-Carrillo and part of her team (Yuanling Bao, Zhenghao Yu and Pascal Kroon) at Amsterdam UMC, Netherlands have been able to target HIV DNA using Crispr-Cas. This gene-editing tool had won the Nobel Prize in 2020.
“Striving for an inclusive ‘HIV cure for all’ that can inactivate diverse HIV strains across various cellular contexts,” the study authors have said.

HIV can infect different cell types

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, can infect various cell types in the human body, primarily targeting CD4+ T cells, which play a crucial role in the immune system. Additionally, HIV can infect macrophages, dendritic cells, and other immune cells. Within CD4+ T cells, HIV enters and replicates, eventually leading to their destruction. Macrophages and dendritic cells serve as reservoirs for the virus, facilitating its spread throughout the body. This ability to infect multiple cell types contributes to the systemic nature of HIV infection and its progressive impact on the immune system, ultimately leading to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) if left untreated.

What is Crispr-Cas?

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Researchers can use these to change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. CRISPR-Cas (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and CRISPR-associated proteins) is a revolutionary gene-editing technology that enables precise modifications to DNA sequences in living organisms. Derived from a natural defense mechanism found in bacteria against viral infections, CRISPR-Cas allows scientists to target specific genes and make changes, such as correcting mutations, inserting or deleting genes, or regulating gene expression. This versatile tool has transformative potential in various fields, including medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology, offering unprecedented opportunities for treating genetic diseases, developing novel therapies, and advancing understanding of gene function and regulation.

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