American scientists managed for the first time ever to completely remove the HIV virus, which causes AIDS, from the body of some infected mice. However, the breakthrough is far from being used on human beings, a research by Nature magazine reports.
Researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center removed the replication-competent HIV-1 DNA from the genomes of mice, marking a crucial step towards the development of a human cure.
“This observation is the first step toward showing for the first time, to my knowledge, that HIV is a curable disease. Over the years, we have looked at HIV as an infectious disease,” said Kamel Khalili, lead author on the study.
“But once it gets into the cell, it’s no longer an infectious disease but becomes a genetic disease because the viral genome is incorporated into the host genome.We think this study is a major breakthrough because it for the first time demonstrates after 40 years of the AIDS epidemic that the HIV disease is a curable disease,” he added.
“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. 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.”
Another scientist, doctor Gendelman said the study wouldn’t have been possible without “an extraordinary team effort that included virologists, immunologists, molecular biologists, pharmacologists, and pharmaceutical experts”.
Earlier this year, a British man, who chose to remain anonymous, became the second case in history of an adult to receive a bone marrow transplant resulting in HIV ‘remission’.
The news came nearly three years after he underwent procedure, where he received a transplant of stem cells from a donor with the rare ‘CCR5-delta 32’ genetic mutation that results in HIV resistance.
However, although the results prove the virus can be totally eliminated, the perspective of a treatment for human patients is still faraway.
According to UNAIDS, there are 36.7 million people infected with HIV worldwide.
Almost 1,000 new HIV/AIDS cases are tracked down in Romania on a yearly basis, with most of them contracting the virus by sexual transmission, the doctors within “Matei Bals” infectious diseases Institute warned several years ago.