Altering DNA could be the answer to the AIDS epidemic

Researchers at Temple University have been looking into how AIDS can be eradicated, with one possible answer being gene manipulation
By Jason Spencer | Mar 25, 2016
AIDS has been plaguing the US since it was first reported in the 1980s. Back then, being diagnosed with AIDS was a death sentence. Today the immune deficiency disorder is considered manageable, though there is still no cure available.

But perhaps there is a cure on the horizon.

According to Crossmap, researchers at Temple University have been looking for a way to stop the destructive path AIDS creates. Since a pill form is near impossible to create, researchers have looked into various other methods, with the process of gene manipulation in order to delete the virus from the body a more plausible solution.

"It's an exciting discovery, but it's not yet ready to go into the clinic," said Kamel Khalili in an interview with Temple University's Temple Now. "It's a proof of concept that we're moving in the right direction."

A professor and the chair of the Department of Neuroscience, Khalili and associate professor Wenhui Hu conducted experients involving Cas9, a DNA snipping enzyme that tracks down HIV in the DNA and deletes it from genes. After using Cas9 one has to undergo cell repair treatment paired.

The process can also be a bit tricky, as HIV is prone to mutate. This means that each case would need to be handled separately, and every patient would undergo their own unique treatment that would only work on an individual basis.

Though the lengthy process may be worth it if it means we can eliminate HIV and AIDS.

"We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies," said Khalili. "We want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patient. That will cure AIDS. I think this technology is the way we can do it."

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