A team of scientists have snipped away HIV DNA from the genome of live mice using a CRISPR system, and the rodents lived to (kinda) tell the tale. It’s still much too early to call the method a possible cure, but the fact that it worked on a living animal opens up a lot of possibilities. Will it work on other diseases, like cancer? Maybe, but that’s something scientists have to look into. These researchers headed by neurovirologist Kamel Khalili have been focusing on the use of the gene-editing technique to eliminate HIV for years. They successfully excised HIV DNA in live mice last year, but this round is a lot more thorough.
People at high risk of contracting HIV can significantly lower their chances of getting the virus with a daily pill known as PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, medicine. While this innovation has led to lower rates of new HIV cases among some, others can’t stick to the once-a-day regimen, prompting scientists to search for a low-effort, long-term way for people to take PrEP on schedule.
A 44-year-old man in England is possibly the first person in history to be cured of HIV. Scientists working on an experimental new therapy say that the virus is now completely undetectable in his blood.
Researchers in the United Kingdom have discovered how HIV’s protective shell helps it invade healthy cells without being detected by the immune system.
Despite the best efforts to date, a vaccine for HIV remains beyond our reach. It seems every time researchers get close, the virus mutates to stay a step ahead, creating a biological arms race. But a team of scientists at the University of Texas believe they may have found a way to hobble HIV and drastically reduce its virulence. They want to infect susceptible cells with a “good” virus first, one that will effectively immunize them against HIV.
I’m not proud of it. As someone who’s at high risk for HIV infection, I have a spotty relationship with safe sex. I came of age in the ’90s, when rappers like Salt-N-Pepa and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes frequently spit rhymes about rubbers. I volunteered in a South African AIDS orphanage in the early 2000s and saw first-hand the effects of unprotected sex. I even had my own close brush with HIV infection nearly 10 years ago. And yet, I don’t always do the right thing.
The first U.S. liver and kidney transplants from a donor with HIV were completed at Johns Hopkins Medicine.