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“There is no cure for AIDS” is a phrase that we have heard many times througout the past three decades....
“There is no cure for AIDS” is a phrase that we have heard many times througout the past three decades. Sadly, it's true. The virus that causes the disease, HIV, targets human DNA, making it mission impossible for our body's immune systems to deal with it.
That fact, however, may soon become history. Temple University researchers claim to have found a way to eliminate the virus completely from cultured human cells, creating a “delete” button on the HIV virus. Eliminating the HIV virus from human cells is a breakthrough not only for AIDS research but also in the work to find cures for other infections.
Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple University says, “This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS. It's an exciting discovery, but it's not yet ready to go into the clinic. It's a proof of concept that we're moving in the right direction.”
Researchers at the University created a molecular tool that would go after HIV-1, the most common type of HIV, and nip its genetic material out of the human cell. This tool is a guide RNA strand, consisting of 20 nucleotides, that targets only the ends of the virus's genes. The result is a removal of the HIV-1 DNA, with the healthy portion of the cell left to repair itself.
Dr. Khalili believes this is the way to cure AIDS. “Since HIV-1 is never cleared by the immune system, removal of the virus is required in order to cure the disease. We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies… we want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patent. That will cure AIDS.”
Hear the researchers at the Temple University talk about the successful eradication of the HIV virus from cultured human cells:
More than 33 million people worldwide have HIV, and about 50,000 Americans are infected with the virus each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When people are infected with HIV, they must begin a drug regimen to keep the virus under control for the rest of their lives. If the treatment is stopped, the virus strikes back.