Since it has surfaced, HIV has been a mystery. HIV enters the body via blood or other fluids during sexual activity or drug use. It can even be passed on to unborn children if the mother has it. HIV takes over a human cell and attaches its genome to the DNA of the infected person. The virus begins to turn off the immune system of the person rendering him or her vulnerable to other infections. At this state, it becomes AIDS; or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
While there is no cure yet, scientists at the Temple University School of Medicine were able to find a way to “erase” HIV by using the enzyme nuclease which disconnects nucleic acids. The nuclease goes directly to the gRNA and removes the genome of the HIV virus where it had attached itself. Once removed, human cells begin their natural repair function and restore themselves back to normal. This can lead to a person being completely free of HIV. However, there is much to be done before biologists can shout, “we have a cure!” Nevertheless, the research is promising. Dr. Kamel Khalili who is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple remarked, “This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS.” The research can be found here: RNA-directed gene editing specifically eradicates latent and prevents new HIV-1 infection.
Millions worldwide have succumbed to HIV-AIDS since the 1980’s. This research shows promise. However, since the human immune system does not know how to fight and kill HIV, then it will be difficult to eradicate the virus within the body even with reprogrammed nuclease enzymes.