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On the hunt for a cure to HIV, scientists claim they have come close by using Crispr gene-editing technology, eradicating HIV from infected cells, according to Euronews and AFP.

Current HIV treatments can suppress the virus but not eliminate it. Using this method, the ultimate goal is to completely eradicate the virus from the genes in the body, however, more research is necessary to ensure safety and effectiveness.

HIV plagues much of the population, with approximately 39 million people across the globe being infected by the disease in 2022, 1.5 million of whom were children, according to HIV.gov. 

HIV integrates into the DNA of the person infected, taking over the host’s cell machinery to replicate.

Crispr technology, which won the Nobel Prize in 2020, acts like molecular scissors which cut the DNA to deactivate or remove harmful sections.

Expert Dr. Jonathan Stoye from the Francis Crick Institute has warned about the challenges of removing HIV from all potentially infected cells and the risk of long-term side effects.

Effective use of the treatment can suppress HIV, but in some cases, some infected cells remain dormant, posing a risk if treatment is stopped.

However, lead researcher Dr Elena Herrera-Carrillo and Excision BioTherapeutics who have worked on the project remain hopeful as three HIV patients have shown no major side effects after 48 weeks. 

It remains one of a number of advances in the field, with successful use of the technique in monkeys last year leading to recruitment for the first human trials.

While rare cases have shown apparent cures after aggressive cancer therapy, this approach isn’t advisable solely for HIV treatment.

While presenting their findings at a medical conference, the University of Amsterdam team emphasised that their work is still in the early stages and is not a cure for HIV yet. 

Further investigation is required as agreed by Dr. James Dixon from the University of Nottingham.

Euronews and AFP. 


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