HIV/AIDS: New DNA Technology Treats Virus by Disturbing Genetic Structure
Researchers at Temple University Health System used DNA modification technology to eliminate the HIV virus in human white blood cells by disturbing the its genetic structure. CRISPR/CAS9 technology introduces a series of genetic code into a target segment of viral DNA in order to disrupt its normal functioning.
The team applied the technique as an experimental treatment on HIV-ridden cells taken from human patients and grown in cultures in the lab. After introducing the “disruptive” DNA into the viral genome using CRISPR, the researchers found that the virus was permanently inactivated without damaging the host lymphocyte. Furthermore, the cell was able to develop an immunity to further HIV infection.
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, infiltrates CD4+ lymphocytes, and manipulates the DNA to continuously replicate its own viral genome. The infection impairs the host body’s ability to fight off common infections like the flu and pneumonia, culminating in AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
In 2014 [WHO], an estimated 36.9 million people were living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, 2.6 million of which were children. Current methods of treatment for HIV/AIDS mainly utilize costly antiretroviral medications that are largely unavailable to affected populations in rural areas, such as sub-Saharan Africa.
To read more about this study, click here.