Antiretroviral therapy has changed the face of HIV/AIDS treatment, but new research in gene editing could be curative, according to a new report.
Kamel Khalili, PhD, Laurel H. Carnell professor and chair in the department of neuroscience, director of the Center for Neurovirology and director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at Temple University in Philadelphia, said gene editing could eliminate HIV infection in cells completely. Current treatment of HIV with antiretroviral therapy (ART) has been successful in suppressing viral replication, said Khalili, but it’s not a perfect treatment. There are several issues with ART including cost, compliance, co-morbidities, and the development of resistant virus.
“Importantly, the current ART is not designed to eliminate the virus so the virus will return if patients stop treatment,” Khalili told Medical Economics. “The gene editing technology which we have developed is designed to completely and permanently eliminate the HIV-1 virus from infected cells and thus, this strategy is a cure.”
ART was developed in the 1990s and has been successful in making HIV a chronic condition that now rarely progresses to the development of AIDS. However, Khalili’s research notes that this treatment requires lifelong medication that can have a negative impact on other body systems. Advances in gene editing show promise, through, and have allowed researchers to inactivate integrated proviral DNA in the genome of latently infected cells or eliminate HIV receptors. Several trials are being performed on variety of gene editing methods, but challenges include the generation of viral escape mutants, avoidance unintended effects, and how to best deliver the reagents to HIV-infected cells in patients, the study notes.