HIV Cure: Virus-Free Cells Possible Based on Promising Vaccine According to New Study

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By Ryan Inoyori | August 13, 2014 6:54 PM EST

HIV-1 virus has been proven tenacious and cannot be defeated by Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy or HAART. But a new research study by Temple University School of Medicine unlocks a new possibility to eliminate HIV-1 via new design of snipping it out for good.

New Study by Temple University

Dr Kamel Khalili and his team including Dr Wenhui Hu led a research and marked the first successful attempt on eliminating latent HIV-1 virus from infected human cells. According to the official website of Temple University, Dr Khalili believes that it is an important step towards a permanent cure for AIDS.

"It's an exciting discovery but it's not yet ready to go into the clinic," Director of the Centre for Neurovirology and Director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Centre at Temple University Dr Khalili stated.

Dr Khalili and his colleagues exploited the strength of HIV-1 which is unable to be cured unless removed from the system and cannot be killed by antiretroviral drugs. The research opened a pathway which may be used on other viruses and holds a promising therapeutic vaccine.

New Method Exposed

Due to the immune system's incapacity of totally removing HIV-1, Dr Khalili and his research team developed molecular tools to delete the HIV-1 proviral DNA. Once deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called guide RNA or gRNA hunt down the viral genome to excise HIV-1 DNA.

After this process, the cell's own gene repair mechanism takes over to fix every loose ends to restore back the genome resulting to virus-free state.

The developed tools allow removal of the viral genome and permit the cell to repair itself as if nothing happened unlike with HAART which can only control the replication and progression of HIV and if the patient stops, the virus will resume its invasion of healthy cells.

Moreover, use of HAART does not guarantee consequence-free living as the controlled HIV can make patients susceptible from diseases associated with age such as cardiomyopathy, bone disease and neurocognitive disorders.

"These problems are often exacerbated by the toxic drugs that must be taken to control the virus," Dr Khalili added.

Dr Khalili and his team are currently working on several strategies to construct the new developed tool for preclinical studies starting with eradication of every single copy of HIV-1 from the patient.

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