An academic paper published in the National Library of Medicine suggests a relatively new technology has the potential to provide a solution to HIV/AIDS. The paper, authored by Mourya Hussein, Mariano A. Molina, Ben Berkhout, and Elena Hererra-Carrillo, argues that employing CRISPR technology–a technology that can be used to edit genes–to target host and viral genes, activate antiviral host factors, and inhibit viral replication could potentially lead to the elimination of the virus.
The paper acknowledges that while promising, there are challenges in developing a viable pathway to curing HIV/AIDS through gene therapy, such as the risk of affecting genes unrelated to HIV/AIDS production and spread in the body. Nonetheless, the study recommends further examination of gene editing therapy through clinical trials to assess its effectiveness.
Following this news, MIT Technology Review reported on Oct. 25 that Excision added the gene-editing tool to the bodies of three people living with HIV. The company directed the gene-editing tool to eliminate the virus, but has not yet revealed any data about the effects of the treatment, which leaves experts in the field wondering exactly how effective it has been at achieving the intended goal.
Fyodor Urnov, a genome editing expert at the University of California-Berkeley, told MIT, “This is an exceptionally ambitious and important trial,” before adding that it “would be good to know sooner than later” the effects of the treatment, “including, potentially, no effect.”
Kamel Khalil, a Temple University professor who helped start the company, says that even if the treatments don’t cure HIV, they represent an important step toward development in treating the disease, as he told MIT. “Even if we don’t completely cure [HIV], we might be getting a significant delay in the rebound of the virus. That could set us up for the next stage, like any drug where there are first and second generations.”
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Source: Black Enterprise