DNA_methylation-Gene Editing

Scientists at Temple University successfully removed HIV DNA from living animals, another step forward in their effort to develop a cure for the virus that causes AIDS.

The team from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine has, for the first time, successfully removed HIV-1 DNA from living animals, using the specialized gene editing technology the scientists designed to eradicate the virus in infected cells.

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Led by Kamel Khalili, professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple, the team’s latest advancement comes months after it announced they had successfully removed the virus from human T-cells, using blood drawn from actual patients living with HIV and the much-touted CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing method.

“It’s extremely promising,” said Dr. Khalili, who believes the most recent advancement paves the way for “the ultimate cure.”

Detailed in the journal Gene Therapy, the most recent breakthrough showed that the team—which included collaborators from the University of Milan, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the University of South Carolina—was able to target and completely eliminate the virus in the organs of rats and mice, including the brain, heart, kidney, liver, lungs, spleen and blood cells.

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“The findings are important on multiple levels,” added Khalili. “They show that the system can protect cells from reinfection and that the technology is safe for the cells, with no toxic effects.”

The researchers will next turn their attention to a follow-up study and Khalili said clinical trials could be on the horizon in the next several years.

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The research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

(Full report at Temple University News)

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