First-time scientists have eliminated the HIV genome from animals !!
The researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) have done the research and for the first time eliminated replication-competent HIV-1 DNA — the virus responsible for AIDS — from the genomes of living animals.
This study reported on July 2 in the journal Nature Communications, this study is one of the landmarks in helping in the cure for HIV infected individuals.
The present treatment available for the treatment of AIDS is not a cure for HIV but only to prolong the life of the infected. The present treatment requires life long consumption of the drugs in order to stop the HIV virus from rebounding, replicating and fueling the development of AIDS.
The HIV virus has the property to integrate with the genome of the cells and remain dormant, beyond the reach of the antiretroviral drugs.
This new study has helped bring into the spotlight the mode of elimination of the HIV DNA from the host cells.
“Our study shows that treatment to suppress HIV replication and gene editing therapy, when given sequentially, can eliminate HIV from cells and organs of infected animals,” said Kamel Khalili, PhD, Laura H. Carnell Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience, Director of the Center for Neurovirology, and Director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM).
The senior investigators on this new study were Dr. Khalili and Howard Gendelman, MD, Margaret R. Larson Professor of Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine, Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience and Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases at UNMC,
“This achievement could not have been possible without an extraordinary team effort that included virologists, immunologists, molecular biologists, pharmacologists, and pharmaceutical experts,” Dr. Gendelman said.
“Only by pooling our resources together were we able to make this groundbreaking discovery.”
The research team has already worked earlier on it. Dr. Khalili’s team used CRISPR-Cas9 technology to develop a novel gene editing and gene therapy delivery system aimed at removing HIV DNA from genomes harboring the virus.
Their study was done in the animal model where In rats and mice, they showed that the gene-editing system could effectively excise large fragments of HIV DNA from infected cells, significantly impacting viral gene expression.
Similar to Antiretroviral drugs this gene editing cannot completely eliminate HIV on its own.but for the new study Dr. Khalili and colleagues combined their gene-editing system with a recently developed therapeutic strategy known as long-acting slow-effective release (LASER) ART.
LASER ART was co-developed by Dr. Gendelman and Benson Edagwa, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at UNMC.
This new discovery of LASER ART has the property to target viral DNA and helps in maintaining the HIV replication at low levels for extended periods of time, reducing the frequency of ART administration.
The long-lasting medications were made possible by pharmacological changes in the chemical structure of the antiretroviral drugs.
The modified drug was packaged into nanocrystals, which readily distribute to tissues where HIV is likely to be lying dormant. From there, the nanocrystals, stored within cells for weeks, slowly release the drug.
According to Dr. Khalili, “We wanted to see whether LASER ART could suppress HIV replication long enough for CRISPR-Cas9 to completely rid cells of viral DNA.”O
In the test, the researchers used mice engineered to produce human T cells susceptible to HIV infection, permitting long-term viral infection and ART-induced latency.
Once the infection was established, mice were treated with LASER ART and subsequently with CRISPR-Cas9. At the end of the treatment period, mice were examined for viral load.
Analyses revealed the complete elimination of HIV DNA in about one-third of HIV-infected mice.
“The big message of this work is that it takes both CRISPR-Cas9 and virus suppression through a method such as LASER ART, administered together, to produce a cure for HIV infection,” Dr. Khalili said.
“We now have a clear path to move ahead to trials in non-human primates and possibly clinical trials in human patients within the year.”
A new treatment modality in the elimination of AIDS has been discovered and research proved on the animals.
where the mice who are infected with HIV have undergone the treatment of long-acting slow-effective release (LASER) ART and subsequently with CRISPR-Cas9 revealed complete elimination of HIV DNA in about one-third of HIV-infected mice.
The success in animal models is to go to the next level in a matter of years to humans to test efficiency. (source)
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