HIV, health, gene, CRISPR,
A Filipino transgender woman holds a huge red ribbon symbolizing fight against the HIV virus.Reuters

A new groundbreaking technique is being developed by researchers to cure HIV. A cohort of scientists from Temple University is devising a tool known as CRISPR in order to alleviate HIV infection in mice.

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CRISPR is a gene editing tool, which allows the researchers to slit out as well as insert particular portions of the DNA, with which the scientists can remove the HIV from mice.

The experiment carried out using CRISPR to terminate HIV from rodents and curb the HIV replication is pioneering, a CBS News report revealed.

The tool acts like microscopic scissors and aids in removing unwanted DNA parts which are then substituted using a new part.

"The researchers are the first to perform this feat in three different animal models, including a "humanized" model in which mice were transplanted with human immune cells and infected with the virus," a GEN report quoted.

This research is groundbreaking and points towards the development taking place in the medical field. It might take years for the researchers to find a dependable way to treat HIV.

"Over our years of research, all of this was frankly a big surprise. This research, so far, has yielded all pleasant surprises, frankly. I never thought that this CRISPR system was going to be working out so beautifully with such efficiency and precision when it first came onto the scene," said Kamel Khalili, director of Temple's center for neurovirology, a CBS report quoted.

The researchers were able to make the HIV-1 inactive genetically in transgenic mice. This resulted in lowering the RNA expression of the genes by 60 percent to 95 percent.

According to the statistics:

  • There were approximately 36.7 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2015. Of these, 1.8 million were children 
  • An estimated 2.1 million individuals worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2015. This includes 150,000 children 
  • Currently only 60% of people with HIV know their status. The remaining 40% (over 14 million people) still need to access HIV testing services.
  • As of June 2016, 18.2 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, up from 15.8 million in June 2015, 7.5 million in 2010, and less than one million in 2000.

"Our new study is more comprehensive," noted co-senior study author Wenhui Hu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in the Center for Metabolic Disease Research and the department of pathology at LKSOM, as reported by GEN.

"We confirmed the data from our previous work and improved the efficiency of our gene-editing strategy. We also show that the strategy is effective in two additional mouse models, one representing acute infection in mouse cells and the other representing chronic, or latent, infection in human cells," Hu said further.

The findings from the new study were published recently in Molecular Therapy.