CRISPR and long-acting therapies eliminate HIV DNA from the genome in animal models

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New research has reported the elimination of replication-competent HIV-1 DNA from the genomes of living animals for the first time, marking a critical a critical step toward the development of a possible cure for human HIV infection.

Currently antiretroviral therapy supresses HIV replication but does not eliminate the virus from the body, requiring life-long use. HIV rebound is directly attributed to the ability of the virus to integrate its DNA sequence into the genomes of immune cells.

Previously, researchers from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (PA, USA) and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (NE, USA) had used CRISPR-Cas9 technology to develop a novel gene editing and gene therapy delivery system aimed at removing HIV DNA from host genomes. In mice and rats this system was demonstrated to effectively excise large fragments of HIV DNA from infected cells impacting viral gene expression, however, it did not completely eliminate the virus.

In this study, published in Nature Communications, the researchers combined their gene editing system with long-acting slow-effective release (LASER) antiretroviral therapy, which targets viral sanctuaries and maintains HIV replication at low levels for extended periods of time, reducing the frequency of antiretroviral administration.

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