Using a gene editing technique called CRISPR/ Cas9, the team was able to target specific sections of infected cells and eliminate HIV.
The process involves “DNA-snipping” enzymes that hunt down infected cells and remove the HIV-1 DNA, allowing the now-healthy cell to repair itself.
Then, after introducing new mutations, the cells become unsusceptible to new infection or diseased replication. There was no toxic effect found in the cells following the procedure, and in fact they were protected from future infection.
And these findings don’t just stop at HIV; learning how to eliminate the virus from infected cells could later be applied to other viral-based diseases.
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“It’s an exciting discovery, but it’s not yet ready to go into the clinic. It’s a proof of concept that we’re moving in the right direction,” said Khalili. Exciting, indeed. This could revolutionize the way we approach viral diseases and infection, especially in poor and developing countries where HIV and AIDS are more prevalent.
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