Ever since the planet woke to the development tragedy of the AIDS epidemic, we’ve been eager to solve the matter of removing all traces of the human immunological disorder virus (HIV) from a human body.
The HIV virus may be a true master of disguise, reworking its look because it proliferates within the frame. Even if all else fails, the virus will hide its genetic templet within our own polymer, ready to emerge when the heat dies off.
Thanks to this talent for staying low, the best we can do is strike with an arsenal of pharmaceuticals designed to keep the deadly pathogen underground, preventing it from emerging and ravaging the body’s immune system. Going off antiretroviral drugs for as little as a few weeks risks a resurgence of infectious virus particles.
Researchers from the University of Nebraska center and Temple University within the U.S. have incontestible the genetic redaction technology CRISPR-Cas9 is on paper capable of finding those buried virus genes and destroying them in mice built to possess human organic chemistry.
CRISPR couldn’t accomplish this all on its own. The team had to combine it with long, slow effective unleash antiretroviral medical care to allow the genetic surgery the time it required to hunt out the infective agent genes and destroy them. If we could apply the same approach to people, it would mean the potential for abandoning daily retroviral medication and the variety of uncomfortable side effects the drugs come with.
Given that nearly 40 million people around the world are currently living with the virus, such a cure would be an exciting development. Unfortunately, CRISPR gene editing is still in its infancy as medical technology, and we still don’t have a good grasp of how much harm it might cause inside a human body.
But compared with earlier methods for targeting genetic sequences for removal or dissection, CRISPR can be easily programmed for an unprecedented level of precision. This makes it an attractive tool for any research worker keen to perform surgery on a molecular level.
Just provide it with the sequence you want chewing up, and send it in. Their area unit already styles on mistreatment it to get rid of alternative buried viruses, such as herpes, not to mention the first tentative steps towards editing the genes behind congenital conditions such as heritable heart diseases. But the technology hasn’t come without intense controversy.
Needless to mention, even mice engineered to mimic our bodies are no substitute for actual humans. Trials underway on primates could go a little further in demonstrating just how much hope we should hold out for CRISPR as a way forward for HIV treatment.
Without delving too deeply into the details behind individual calls, it’s clear that administrators in the US are viewing the technology with more than a small degree of caution. As they should. But HIV analysis has already had a history of being forced to attend.
Wind back the clock just a few decades, a positive test for HIV was a death sentence. Tragically, for millions around the globe denied access to medication, it still is. The final step towards a cure would be something to celebrate, but for now, time will tell if this is the one we’ve been hoping for.