CRISPR breakthrough in eliminating HIV from mice

Scientists in the US have claimed a major breakthrough by eliminating HIV from mice, which were transplanted with infected human immune cells, the first time this has been achieved.

A previous study was done in 2016 in which the HIV was eliminated from cells in lab dishes. To do so, the scientists used the gene editing tool called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR).

The new study from Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh builds up on the the earlier study done by the same team.

"Our new study is more comprehensive, "RT quoted associate professor at the Temple University Wenhui Hu, who led the study, as saying.

"We confirmed the data from our previous work and have improved the efficiency of our gene editing strategy. We also show that the strategy is effective in two additional mouse models, one representing acute infection in mouse cells and the other representing chronic, or latent, infection in human cells."

CRISPR is described as a "molecular scissors". The Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats eliminated the virus using Ribonucleic acid (RNA).

The RNA searches for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When the search is done and the RNA has identified HIV, a special enzyme removes the virus for the cells.

Three "animal models" were tested in the study, including a successful test on a model containing mice transplanted with the human immune cells, where HIV can often escape detection.

Results of the study were published in the journal Molecular Therapy.

"The next stage would be to repeat the study in primates, a more suitable animal model where HIV infection induces disease," Hu said. "Our eventual goal is a clinical trial in human patients."

India has the third largest occurrence of HIV in the world. According to a UNAIDS Gap Report of 2015, as many as two crore people in the country HIV with 86,000 new infections that year. HIV/AIDS claimed lives of about 70,000 people in India in 2015.