Nine researchers, countless lab works and a 14-page study are the end results of Dr. Kamel Khalili and his team discovering a way to eliminate HIV from a living human cell.
Nearly two years ago researchers successfully edited HIV out of cultured human cells. Since then the team honed in on CD-4 T-Cells, which are the cells that primarily host the HIV infection
The technology not only erases any trace of HIV from the cells, but it also prevents it from reappearing. The plus side? It causes no harm to any cell. And no side effects.
Dr. Khalili says the current method is great at suppressing the disease but it has problems.
“Once the patient stops taking it the virus rebounds and puts the patient at risk for the development of the disease,” says Dr. Khalili, senior investigator on the study.
The method developed at Lewis Katz School of Medicine is a shorter process that leads to a long-term retraction.
“When you have R-N-A molecules and these enzymes they form a complex and then target specific D-N-A sequences within the genome,” Dr. Khalili explains.
Here’s what he means: The RNA molecules are specifically designed to located HIV in cells, acting like a guide. The enzymes go in to cut the infection out.
The cells then naturally repairs themselves leaving no room for recurrence. This HIV-tackling strategy is still years away from being available for those currently living with the virus.
When asked about a possible cure for AIDS in the future Dr. Khalili said: “I think the strategy we have can lead to the cure of AIDS and I’m really optimistic about that actually.”
A start date for clinical trials hasn’t been set.