Although the examine was performed on mice, Gendelman mentioned it's nonetheless vital as a result of it exhibits that sterilization of HIV in living animals is possible. Almost 37 million people worldwide are infected with HIV-1, and more than 5000 people are infected each day, according to UNAIDS. Its effectiveness in protecting humans from the virus is still unknown.
The problematic thing about HIV is it is smart enough to hide from our body's immune system and even more from drugs that we send to attack it.
The study authors used two completely different instruments to fight the virus: CRISPR technology and LASER ART.
"The ability to excise HIV-1 DNA from the genomes of infected animals depends on LASER ART's abilities to maximally restrict ongoing infection". They were able to control the release and metabolism of the drug which allowed it to suppress virus replication for longer period of time.
"That's why we believe this technology is working because the LASER ART is reducing the virus significantly and then the CRISPR comes in and it's able to be more effective", Gendelman said. HIV rapidly replicates itself, making them virtually impossible to remove altogether.
Snow said, "That is the key to the end of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our lifetime and of course we will always welcome a cure and look forward to that as well".
"In order to cure the disease, we need a genetic strategy. Gene editing gives us the opportunity to eliminate viral DNA from host chromosomes without hurting the host genome".
This is where the second method comes in.
His team used a technique called CRISPR-Cas9 that can snip faulty DNA with a harmless virus. Excision BioTherapeutics holds the exclusive license for commercial application of these advancements as it works on the development and commercialization of advanced gene editing therapeutics for the treatment of life-threatening diseases caused by viruses. It is harmless with tremendous benefits - an ideal method to curing HIV.
Khalili and his Temple colleagues previously used CRISPR to cut off large fragments of HIV DNA from infected immune cells.
The CRISPR-LASER ART combination is now being testing on non-human primates. In both examples, researchers discovered that HIV rebounded rendering the experiment unsuccessful.
"We're landing on the moon", he said. HIV can develop into late-stage HIV, or AIDS, with a life span of about three years once developed to this stage.
"We have to make sure that they're safe, that they're effective and that they don't have the side effects because when we move into patients we want to make sure that that first patient tested is experiencing something that will be safe for them", president and CEO of UNeMed Corp., Michael Dixon said.
That's not a huge number, and there are clear steps still to be taken before this can become a human clinical trial, but it's certainly a positive start.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center has taken a major step toward a potential cure for human HIV infection.
"At the very least it's a proof of concept", Gendelman said.
No one said it was going to be easy to find a cure for HIV - but this multifaceted approach offers a glimpse into how it might actually be done.