In what could be a pathbreaking move in the medical industry, Chinese scientists have potentially found a way to cure HIV. They didn’t still cute anyone just yet but their method has got all doctors around the world curious about its potential.
The scientists used CRISPR gene-editing technology to try and cure a patient suffering from HIV. However, it did not really cure the patient.
Although they failed to cure the HIV infection, the therapy appeared to be extremely safe. Usually, there is a huge risk associated with such cases usually, leading to inadvertent genetic alterations.
This is the first time this gene-editing tool has been used in experimental HIV therapy. People in the medical field termed it a big success despite its failure, mainly because it is a major step towards curing HIV.
In scientific terms, the researchers used CRISPR to remove a gene known as CCR5, which is the source of information for a protein that resides on the surface of a few immune cells. HIV uses this protein as a gateway to enter inside the cells.
Only a very few sections of the population who have a natural mutation in the CCR5 gene are resistant to HIV.
Only two people have ever been cured of HIV — popularly known as the Berlin patient and the London patient. They had the virus deleted from their bodies after undergoing bone marrow transplants from donors who had the natural CCR5 mutation.
However, it is very rare to find bone marrow donors with a specific mutation. Scientists believe editing the gene using this technology might have the same effect. There remain few concerns with this tech as a previous study indicated it might cause early deaths.
The work was published in the latest edition of The New England Journal of Medicine. The authors hail from Peking University in Bejing.