Skip to main content

Scientists managed to “cut out” HIV virus from rats

hiv cure dna double helix

Science has brought us yet another step closer to an HIV cure with a pair of molecular scissors. A group of researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University have managed to “cut out” HIV-1 genes from mice and rat genomes.

“In a proof-of-concept study, we show that our gene editing technology can be effectively delivered to many organs of two small animal models and excise large fragments of viral DNA from the host cell genome,” said Professor Kamel Khalili, who led the study. This, scientists hope, could one day lead to the elimination of the deadly virus in human patients as well.

Related Videos

Currently, HIV treatment is contingent upon a cocktail of antiretrovirals, and while these drugs can prevent the virus from replicating, it doesn’t serve as a real cure. Moreover, Temple University points out, “When antiretroviral therapy is interrupted, HIV replication rebounds, placing patients at risk for developing acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS.” But if doctors are able to fully remove the virus from human genomes altogether, a wholesale solution may finally be in sight.

In conducting their experiment, researchers first infected rats with HIV DNA, then engineered an ex vivo experiment to “cleave the integrated HIV-1 DNA in the host cell genome.” This would potentially excise the viral DNA fragment from the genome altogether. After two weeks, the Temple University team examined their subjects’ DNA, and found that the HIV DNA was no longer present, seemingly removed from every tissue, including the brain, heart, kidney, liver, lungs, spleen, and blood cells.

“The ability of the rAAV delivery system to enter many organs containing the HIV-1 genome and edit the viral DNA is an important indication that this strategy can also overcome viral reactivation from latently infected cells and potentially serve as a curative approach for patients with HIV,” said Dr. Khalili.

The next step for Khalili’s team will be to conduct a larger study on animals, but the team hopes that a clinical trial for human patients could come to fruition within the next several years.

Editors' Recommendations

PAX West will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for entry
Ac rowd gathers at PAX West in 2017.

PAX West, the Seattle-based gaming convention run by Penny Arcade and ReedPop, has reversed its lax stance on COVID safety. Anyone attending the event will now need either proof that they've been vaccinated or a recent, negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test.

PAX West 2020 was canceled, like many other events, due to the coronavirus pandemic last year. The event and its organizers quickly drew criticism earlier this year for announcing that the event would take place in person without any vaccination requirements. Along with a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination, attendees of PAX West will need to provide a "valid, government-issued ID."

Read more
Healthy ‘space pup’ mice born from sperm stored on International Space Station
Healthy 'space pups' born from sperm which had been freeze-dried on the International Space Station.

These healthy "space pup" mice were born from sperm that had been freeze-dried and stored on the International Space Station. Teruhiko Wakayama/University of Yamanashi

Healthy mice -- charmingly referred to as "space pups" -- have been born from sperm that was freeze-dried before spending nearly six years on the International Space Station (ISS).

Read more
The best sleep gadgets
sleep technology Moona smart pillow

Are you getting enough sleep? According to a 2016 report by the Centers for Disease Control, more than a third of Americans aren’t, with sleep-related disorders affecting an estimated 50 million to 70 million Americans -- and that is a problem. Lack of sleep doesn’t just make people cranky; it can lead to a variety of health problems, increasing the risks of diabetes, obesity, and even heart disease, among other things. In the modern world, there are a lot of things that can interfere with your sleep, whether it be loud roommates, bright street lights outside your window, or merely the unrelenting urge to pick up your smartphone, desperately searching for one more mildly funny Reddit post.

Just as modern technology interferes with our sleep, it can also help you get your eight hours' shut-eye. Here are some useful gadgets that can help you get to sleep easily and stay asleep without interruptions.

Read more