In what could be the greatest development in science, researchers have developed a new method to treat HIV by directly editing a patient’s cells.
Researchers call this new method of gene therapy as a milestone in HIV research.
Researchers explain, CD4 T-cells, or “helper cells,” are the cells that are targeted by these deadly virus. The damage, hence occur on the immune system, leads to AIDS in the HIV positive people.
The study was conducted on 12 HIV-positive people. Scientists extracted such helper cells from the participants and ‘edited’ their genetic makeup to artificially create a type of HIV immunity that has in previous research been identified in about nine percent of people of European descent.
The scientists have developed the technique in such a way so as to disrupt a gene, CCR5, used by HIV to infect T-cells i.e. the white blood cells (WBCs) that helps in fighting viral infections.
Scientists explain, s patient’s cells are removed and processed to alter the DNA that codes for the CCR5 receptor. The altered cells are multiplied and tested, then infused back into the patient.
Following the procedure, what the researchers found was the modified T-cells persisted and the presence of HIV DNA decreased, the researchers said.
The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.