Genome Editor CRISPR Targets AIDS Virus HIV
Thanks to genome-editing system CRISPR/Cas9, Japanese researchers are one step closer to curing HIV.
Human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) is a chronic disease affecting more than 35 million people worldwide.
The infection can be controlled by antiretroviral therapy (ART). But despite scientific advances, it’s still not possible to eradicate all corrupt cells, and there is no permanent fix.
Famed for its ability to precisely rewrite DNA, CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat) has been hailed as the single most important discovery of the 21st century.
Now, scientists at Kobe University are using it for what they hope will be an equally groundbreaking breakthrough.
Led by Masanori Kameoka, Tomohiro Kotaki, and Youdiil Ophinni, the study targeted two genes that regulate the proliferation of HIV-1: tat and rev. Using CRISPR, the team was able to destroy these genes and successfully block the production of HIV-1 by infected cells.
“These results show that the CRISPR/Cas9 system, by targeting the regulatory genes of HIV-1—tat and rev—is a promising method for treating HIV infection,” Kobe University associate professor Masanori Kameoka said in a statement.
“We now need to investigate how we can selectively introduce a CRISPR/Cas9 system that targets HIV-1 genes into the infected cells of patients,” he continued.
But first, the lentiviral vectors—a method by which genes are inserted, modified, or deleted in organisms—must be improved.
“We hope this research will provide us with useful information in developing a treatment method that can completely cure the HIV-1 infection,” Kameoka said.
Since CRISPR hit the scene, scientists have been scrambling to put the DNA sequences to good use.
In March, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine used CRISPR/Cas9 to identify specific genes that help protect against a toxic protein that causes ALS (also known as motor neuron disease or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Scientists at UC Berkeley and MIT, meanwhile, developed tools that pair CRISPR with enzymes Cas12 and Cas13 to identify conditions like Zika, dengue, and HPV, as well as bacteria and cancer mutations.
Last month, reports suggested that Mammoth Biosciences is working on a CRISPR-based paper-and-smartphone-app test for easier at-home disease detection.
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Published at Tue, 22 May 2018 21:08:25 +0000