CRISPR is short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. While this technology that can directly edit genes in living bodies was discovered only two years ago, its applications are already revolutionizing many health branches. As of recently, a team at the University of Pittsburgh employed gene-editing as a method against one of deadliest enemies for humans. As such, they managed to cure HIV infection in mice with human cells.
Researchers Had Three Animal Models to Experiment Gene Editing for HIV Infection
CRISPR is a gene-editing device that allows scientists to alter DNA as if it were a Lego puzzle. Thanks to this technology, scientists at the University of Pittsburgh managed to remove those DNA codes in mice that were affected by HIV. The research paper appeared in journal Molecular Therapy and was based on three models of animals. One of them was a humanized lab mouse which received a transplant of human immune cells with HIV.
The study was under the guidance of Wenhui HU from LKSOM. The project began back in 2016 when scientists started analyzing the genome of lab mice that were infected with HIV-1. The collected data showed them that they would theoretically be capable of replacing impaired DNA parts with normal ones for each specimen.
CRISPR Eliminated Acute HIV RNA Expression in Lab Mice by 96%
One of the animal models received an HIV infection that was still dormant. Scientists managed to reduce the HIV replication in these specimens by 60 to 95%. Afterward, they moved on lab mice with an acute condition. In this case, they manage to extirpate the RNA expression of the HIV by as much as 96%. This is the first time in history when such an immunodeficiency condition was ever ameliorated due to CRISPR/Cas9.
The next step in this groundbreaking research endeavor is to replicate the procedure in primates. This is going to be a bigger challenge as this race comes with a more complicated HIV infection. Other severe illnesses often accompany the condition.
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