Scientists say they can cut HIV out of cells

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Scientists announce the effective removal of HIV from infected cells utilizing the Nobel Prize-winning Crispr gene-editing technology.

Functioning akin to molecular scissors, it precisely cuts DNA to remove or deactivate undesirable segments. The ultimate goal is complete eradication of the virus from the body, although extensive safety and efficacy assessments are imperative before this can be realized. While current HIV medications can suppress the virus, they fall short of eliminating it entirely.

The University of Amsterdam team, set to present their preliminary findings at ECCMID 2024, emphasizes that their work serves as proof of concept and is far from constituting a cure for HIV. Dr. James Dixon of the University of Nottingham echoes this sentiment, stressing the need for further validation before considering its application in clinical settings. He underscores the challenges of translating these promising results from cellular assays to comprehensive therapeutic interventions.

Despite advancements, challenges persist in using Crispr against HIV, with concerns regarding off-target effects and long-term consequences.

Excision BioTherapeutics announces encouraging findings in three HIV-infected volunteers after 48 weeks, yet experts such as Dr. Jonathan Stoye warn that accomplishing broad elimination of HIV from all potential reservoirs within the body remains challenging.

The persistence of latent viral reservoirs necessitates lifelong antiretroviral therapy for most individuals with HIV.

While rare cases of apparent cure exist, such as through aggressive cancer therapy, this approach is not recommended solely for HIV treatment. Maintaining effective antiretroviral treatment enables individuals with HIV to lead long and healthy lives, with the added benefit of preventing transmission to sexual partners when adhering to medication. Richard Angell of the Terrence Higgins Trust emphasizes the importance of expediting research efforts toward an HIV cure, while highlighting existing tools like PrEP for HIV prevention. This progress offers hope for ending new HIV cases by 2030, marking a significant milestone in combating the virus without relying on a vaccine or cure.

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