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Gene therapy snips HIV out of infected cells and makes uninfected cells resistant
Gus Cairns, 2016-03-30 11:00:00
For the first time, researchers have used a gene-editing
technique already used to produce cells resistant to HIV infection to target HIV-infected cells. They have managed to remove
HIV genes completely from infected cells, as shown by reductions in the cells' overall rate of HIV production. In cells not already infected, the therapy has itself become part of their genome, producing cells that are resistant to infection for a prolonged period.
The therapy produced significant reductions in the ability of
CD4 cells to be infected with HIV and to produce it. It produced positive results in a
laboratory-generated CD4-cell analogue and in actual CD4 cells, both HIV-uninfected ones grown in the laboratory, and HIV-infected ones taken from four
patients with HIV.
This gene-editing technique has so far only been used on cells in the laboratory dish, but this study takes us one step closer to a therapy that could be administered as an injection and work within the body.