So far, HIV has eluded a cure because it installs its genome into human DNA so insidiously that it’s impossible for our immune system to clear it out. But lately, researchers from Temple University claim that they have successfully deleted HIV virus from human DNA.
The team analyzed a part of our immune system that fights infection and built a “guide RNA” strand consisting of 20 nucleotides (RNA building blocks). Then they injected those strands into cells that were typically infected with HIV. The scientists targeted the end parts of the virus’ gene and snipped out all 9,709 nucleotides that made up its genome. Since the guide RNA strand contained no human DNA sequences, it left the host cell intact — but free from HIV.
Temple researcher Kamel Khalili has said that “Since HIV-1 is never cleared by the immune system, removal of the virus is required in order to cure the disease. We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies… we want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patent. That will cure AIDS.”
Although scientists have eliminated the virus from cultured cells, there’s still a lot of hurdles to clear before such therapy is ready for human trials. Here’s a video for you.