Researchers Claim That HIV Can Be Eliminated Permanently

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Grijns, Dutch Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV/AIDS, speaks to delegates at 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne
Lambert Grijns, Dutch Ambassador for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and HIV/AIDS, speaks to delegates at the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne July 20, 2014. Reuters

HIV can be permanently eliminated from human cells, claim researchers from Temple University School of Medicine. The study has been published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences.

A HIV-deleting molecular tool was constructed from an enzyme that snips DNA and a strand of gRNA which helps in finding the genome of the virus.

To control HIV-1, highly active antiretroviral therapy has been adopted as the main treatment for the last 15 years. It has been reported that two Australians and one other man have been cured with the help of this treatment and that it also helps extend the lifespan of those who are suffering from HIV.

Kamel Khalili, the chair of the Department of Neuroscience at the Temple University School of Medicine, said that low-level replica of the HIV-1 virus can make patients suffer from diseases which could be associated with that of aging. 

Methods to eliminate the DNA of HIV-1 were investigated by the researchers. The two part "HIV editor" is based on the mechanism of bacterial defense which can help protect against HIV. A strand of gRNA made of 20 nucleotides was constructed by the researches which was used as the target system of the tool. The look of the strand is similar to that of the DNA of the HIV-virus when repeated many times.

A virus-free cell is possible when the gRNA finds the end of the long terminal repeats of the DNA and makes an incision on it. This results in the snipping of the ends of the HIV-1 genome and the mechanism of gene-repair starts off.

Khalili explained that the research is a very important step that can help find a permanent cure for aids and that it qualifies as an exciting discovery.

The research team is working on its next step of devising a plan to deliver the tool to all the infected cells in a host. Khalili added that eradicating all the copies of HIV-1 from those suffering from HIV will cure AIDS.

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