Home Features Best of 2014 BEST OF 2014 // #85: Hunting HIV

BEST OF 2014 // #85: Hunting HIV

BEST OF 2014 // #85: Hunting HIV
Mehau Kulyk/Science Photo Library/Corbis

HIV treatment has made great progress since the turn of the century, and thanks to something called HAART – Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy – HIV/AIDS is no longer the death sentence it used to be. However, even with HAART, HIV can linger inside human immune and brain cells, only to reactivate years later, causing neurological problem, heart issues and kidney disease.  This year, there was hope for a new method to hunt down the remains of HIV, which could lead to the first real cure for HIV/AIDS

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HIV affects 35 million people globally.  It infiltrated the cells, replicates it’s code into healthy cells, and turns those cells into factories for HIV.  HAART can keep HIV from replicating, thereby saving the immune system of a patient.  But to get rid of HIV cell, researchers at Temple University customized CRISPR to snip out the whole HIV genome, without harming any human cells.

Announced in July, the technique is able to work in both brain and immune cells, where the virus can hide.  It could even theoretically be used to protect people from future HIV infections, or other viral diseases, such as HepB.  The research has yet to be tested on animals, and that testing phase could take several years.

“We want to eradicate every single copy of [HIV] from the patient…That will cure AIDS. I think this technology is the way we can do it.” – Kamel Khalili, Researhcer

There’s 99 more stories from 2014.  Check out the Best of 2014 series here

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