US scientists use “CRISPR” technology to discover new treatment for AIDS |

Washington- Some experts hope to make a groundbreaking discovery in the effort to find an anti-HIV remedy using technology from the emerging world of gene editing.

Researchers at the North-West University have used CRISPR – a gene-editing technology – to identify parts of the virus that are key to its ability to infect and reproduce human blood cells.

Although there is still a long way to go, the researchers hope that their discovery will open the door to further investigations that will eventually lead to the development of a treatment or vaccine for the virus.

Dr. Judd Holquist led the research, published earlier this month in Nature Communications, in which researchers worked to discover the parts of the virus’ genetic makeup that are responsible for its ability to reproduce and infect.

Their goal was to help close the current gap in HIV treatment. Currently, a person with HIV can use a “cocktail” – as it is often described – of antiretroviral drugs.

“How can we improve the current treatments our people are giving to prevent transmission and come up with a potential treatment?” was the question the research team tried to answer, Holquist said. People with HIV can take antiretroviral drugs forever, which prevents the virus from multiplying and getting worse, and also prevents the infection from being transmitted to another person. If he stops taking this medication, the infection will return, possibly progressing to AIDS and reopening the door for transmission.

Using “CRISPR”, the researchers identified 86 genes that play a role in the virus’ ability to cause disease, noting that at least 40 of them have not been investigated for their role in supporting HIV.

These newly discovered genes are described as new “ways” to look at, in a statement published by the university. And this is just the beginning of what Holquist and his team hope will be a further impetus to explore potential treatments for HIV.

Dr Cathy Liddell, Director of the Center for Law, Medicine and Life Sciences at the University of Cambridge in the UK, said: “CRISPR is a powerful tool that has made generation faster, more accurate, cheaper and easier to operate.

◙ People with HIV can use antiretroviral drugs forever
People with HIV can take antiretroviral drugs forever

This technology also upsets the balance socially, as it has many applications, including in the fields of human medicine, agriculture and biofuels. ”

Since October 2020, 115 clinical trials have been conducted with human gene editing technology, according to the Center for Human Generation at the World Health Organization, and it has also included the treatment of common genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia and beta-thalassemia.

In March 2020, he prescribed the first gene therapy using CRISPR technology to a person suffering from a rare condition known as LCA10, which causes blindness in children and for which there is currently no other treatment. The treatment in this case was used to eliminate the genetic mutation (CEP290).

Scientists have used the gene-editing technology “CRISPR” to successfully prevent the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into infected human cells, according to a new study that could pave the way for new treatments for Covid-19.

Researchers in Australia said in the journal Nature Communications that the tool was effective against transmitting the virus in laboratory tests, adding that they hoped to start animal testing soon.

CRISPR technology, which enables scientists to alter DNA sequences and alter gene function, has already shown promising results in eliminating the genetic coding that drives the development of childhood cancer.

In the study, released last July, the team used the CRISPR enzyme, which binds to RNA sequences associated with the new Corona virus and leads to the degradation of the genome it needs to enter human cells. to reproduce.

Lead author Sharon Lewin – of the Australian Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunology – told AFP, “The team designed the CRISPR instrument to identify the SARS-Cove-2 virus responsible for Covid-19 disease. Once the virus is identified, the CRISPR enzyme will be activated and cut the virus. ” . We have targeted various parts of the virus, parts that are very stable and unchanging and parts that are highly variable, and we have all done a very good job of cracking down on the virus. ”

The researchers hope that their discovery will open the door to further investigations that will eventually lead to the development of a treatment for the virus.

This technique was also successful in stopping viral replication in samples of variants of concern such as alpha. Lewin indicated that the widespread use of CRISPR technology in medicine could be “years, not months”. But she insisted the tool could still be useful in treating Covid-19.

“Another benefit of the study is the ability to apply advanced technology to other viral diseases such as AIDS,” said study co-author Mohamed Freeh, of the Peter McCallum Cancer Center.

He continued, “Unlike traditional antiviral drugs, the power of this tool lies in the flexibility of its design and its ability to adapt, making it a suitable remedy against many disease-causing viruses, including influenza, Ebola and possibly HIV. “

It is noteworthy that the technology is causing widespread controversy in the scientific community, although it may be useful in the medical field, critics say that experiments adopting this technique could be exploited in an attempt to change the genetic characteristics of humans. which ethical and safety issues.

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