A drug that can remove HIV from DNA will be tested on humans

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved clinical trials of a new human HIV therapy (CRISPR / Cas). This was announced in a press release by ExcisionBioTherapeutics, which will conduct the study.

The developers consider the CRISPR / Cas system to be a "potential cure for chronic HIV." It is expected that this technology can replace standard antiretroviral therapy (ART), which prevents the replication of HIV but does not remove it from the body.

HIV integrates its genetic material into the genome of the host cell, which means that available treatments simply cannot remove it. With CRISPR / Cas technology, DNA can be edited so that the embedded immunodeficiency virus can simply be excised from the genome. This could lead to a complete cure for HIV, experts say.

Before testing a new method of treating HIV in humans, animal testing was performed. A team of scientists from Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center were able to completely remove the HIV virus in some mice (two out of seven) in preclinical trials using a combination of CRISPR + ART. The animals were first given antiretroviral drugs to help reduce HIV and then tested on the CRISPR / Cas system. Experts in the study did not identify side effects that could be associated with therapy.

In parallel, scientists from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University tested this technology on primates. The monkeys were first treated with ARV therapy and then given CRISPR / Cas intravenously. Scientists have not been able to completely rid lymph node cells of HIV (the amount of viral DNA has decreased by 38-95%), but the technology has shown its potential. During testing, the researchers found that the therapy penetrates into all tissues of the body where the HIV reservoirs are located.

The next stage is phase I / II human clinical trials, which, according to ExcisionBioTherapeutics, will begin in late 2021. Experts plan to evaluate the effectiveness of different dosages of intravenous CRISPR / Cas, as well as the safety of the drug.

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