AIDS/HIV | Health

Researchers Eliminate HIV Virus In Human Cells

Screenshot 2014-07-22 12.01.50

Researchers at Temple University have successfully managed to eliminate HIV from infected human cell cultures according to a recently released study. Most current HIV treatments target the various means through which HIV integrates itself into healthy host cells in order replicate itself. The team at Temple, however, employed a form of advanced gene therapy in order to render HIV-infected cells completely HIV-free. From the team’s press release:

When deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping enzyme called a nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA) hunt down the viral genome and excise the HIV-1 DNA. From there, the cell's gene repair machinery takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together – resulting in virus-free cells.

Treatments capable of removing HIV from infected cells have long since been a goal for those within the HIV/AIDS research community. While antiretrovirals are able to suppress the viral loads in HIV positive people, interruptions in treatment give the virus the chance to proliferate, sometimes with dangerous consequences such as cardiomyopathy, kidney disease, and neurocognitive disorders.

"These problems are often exacerbated by the toxic drugs that must be taken to control the virus," explained Dr. Kamel Khalili. "Since HIV-1 is never cleared by the immune system, removal of the virus is required in order to cure the disease."

This development comes just days after a report published at the 20th International AIDS Conference announced that HIV infection rates in general have dropped here in the U.S. The one population observed to have experienced a rise in infection rates were gay and bisexual men.

Controlled tests with the gene therapy method have proven to be successful, but Khalili says that his team still faces a number of significant challenges before the treatment is ready for patient trials. In order to be completely effective the molecular agents responsible for disabling HIV’s replication process would have to be delivered to every cell in an infected individual’s body. Moreover, the strain of HIV that the treatment has proved effective against, HIV-1, is prone to mutation, further complicating the therapy’s effectiveness outside of controlled environments.

"We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies," Khalili said. "We want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patient. That will cure AIDS. I think this technology is the way we can do it."

Watch Temple University's video announcing the research breakthrough AFTER THE JUMP...


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  1. "Researchers" have said these things so many times over the last two decades that I've lost count.

    Posted by: Pookie | Jul 22, 2014 2:27:03 PM

  2. Dear "Pookie"
    As a "researcher" and a 29 year veteran of HIV infection myself, I can tell you that I am alive today because of many of those things "researchers" have said. If all of those "researchers" enjoyed your level ignorance or negativity then I suppose many of us would long be dead. Go sell it somewhere else.

    Posted by: Will | Jul 22, 2014 3:11:53 PM

  3. Good news for our sick friends.

    Posted by: Alexander | Jul 22, 2014 3:46:14 PM

  4. fingers crossed!

    Posted by: Truthiness | Jul 22, 2014 4:23:45 PM

  5. removing hiv from a few cells in a petri dish is a longggggggggggggg way from removing it from a body with organs where HIV can hide

    Posted by: Moz's | Jul 22, 2014 4:28:46 PM

  6. Progress is progress. I take this as good news and so should everyone regardless of their age, sex, sexual orientation, race, nationality, gender identity or HIV status. We need some positive news after the airplane that was shot down with so many HIV researchers and activists on board.

    Posted by: graphicjack | Jul 22, 2014 5:40:58 PM

  7. @Moz. That's why this is exciting. Pretty much every form of treatment currently on the market targets HIV when it is in the bloodstream and prevents it from reproducing. What those treatments can't do is target HIV when it is hiding within cells. These reservoirs of virus are why people who are on anti retroviral medications can halt the progress of HIV, and lead normal healthy lives, but cannot be cured. Anything that can get rid of HIV within a cell means that eventually we may be able to eradicate it from within these reservoirs and actually fully treat people. This is of course extremely preliminary but an exciting breakthrough none the less.

    Posted by: Firesinavalon | Jul 22, 2014 5:48:38 PM

  8. good thing he wasn't on that plane going to the aids conference in australia.

    Posted by: woody | Jul 22, 2014 6:39:04 PM

  9. @Moz : given that previously nobody had a clue as to how to remove HIV from a cell without destroying the cell, this is a very interesting result.

    Posted by: Bill | Jul 22, 2014 6:59:41 PM

  10. i hope this research can move from the molecular level to the trial level in animals or humans soon.

    This crisis has gone on too long.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jul 22, 2014 7:06:11 PM

  11. Sounds very promising and for all viral infections. I've long thought the best bet was a two fold approach: Prevent replication and unsplice HIV from DNA. Looking like the second, and necessary, task may soon be a reality. This would be a real cure; for all kinds of viral infections.

    Anyone, in any branch of science, has my sincere thanks for dedicating their life toward the betterment of the human condition!

    Posted by: Martin | Jul 22, 2014 7:11:30 PM

  12. WILL : Sorry, you're going to have to do a great deal better than that.

    HIV/AIDS "research" is so rife with fraud and lies, you deserve no respect, and will get none from me.

    Particularly since you're entirely anonymous here and more than likely just a paid shill for big pharma.

    So, suck it. I don't need you, HIV is entirely preventable.

    Every dime wasted on paying fake researchers is money that should ahve gone to education and prevention.

    Posted by: Pookie | Jul 22, 2014 7:28:02 PM

  13. Will, you are not alone in your feeling, that of a survivor -,sorry, I mean OUR survival- who does not know the researchers who ensured the endless analysis, the namelesse beneficiaries waiting, or not even knowing someone was tracing a maze on their behalf.

    Posted by: chevytexas | Jul 22, 2014 8:02:04 PM

  14. Who does the editing on this site? It has really gone downhill in recent months.

    This is a case where the title indeed SHOULD have included the text "VIDEO", because the video is actually about the content.

    Posted by: Randy | Jul 23, 2014 1:10:26 AM

  15. That "every cell in the patient's body" is a tricky one. That tech could be pretty severe. We don't want: "The disease was eradicated but unfortunately the patient died." The loss of the researchers in the shoot-down and crash over Ukraine will have serious consequences for HIV research. The impact has not been really discussed and has been underestimated. Some conspiracy theorists are toying with the idea that anti-LGBT pro-Russia separatists shot the plane down and knew who was on board. Sounds far-fetched but the order could have come from Moscow.

    Posted by: BrokebackBob | Jul 23, 2014 10:10:10 AM

  16. Just what the world needs -- someone like Pookie to shoot down any positive good news ANYwhere just because he/she is clearly uneducated. And anyway, how do we you know YOU'RE not the paid shill from a competing pharma company working on its own "fraudulent" treatment? Outlandishly unfounded accusations work both ways. "Fraud and lies" is so cartoonishly melodramatic -- scientific discovery is ALWAYS rife with hits and misses, ESPECIALLY something as complicated as AIDS. But to turn every hit or miss into a "fraud or lie" only belies the complete lack of education or knowledge on the subject. So being education- and knowledge-free, yes, by all means, we need those peanut gallery comments.

    Posted by: Markus | Jul 23, 2014 12:40:18 PM

  17. Well Pookie, aren't you just a ray of sunshine? It must be tiring to live with your bitterness.

    Posted by: aregeejay | Jul 26, 2014 3:47:45 PM

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