Ever since AIDS has been ravaging societies, scientists have been put at work to find a cure. A new study has shown that the virus can be deleted from human cells by introducing a nuclease-RNA molecular tool which acts on the genome of the virus. These results could potentially provide the building blocks for an HIV vaccine.
HIV dethroned from human cells
One of the deadliest diseases plaguing societies worldwide is AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) caused by the HIV virus. The virus is an extremely potent one as it directly targets the immune system, thereby preventing the body from defending itself against the intruder, while the latter continues to propagate itself throughout the body. The cells of the immune system function as the police force of the body, getting rid of any intruder that could potentially harm the body.
The HIV virus, however, cannot be done away with because it neutralises these very cells, stripping the body of its ability to fight harmful pathogens. That is how the virus replicates and keeps on replicating. Removing the virus from the cell it has claimed as powerhouse to fuel its replication has so far remained an impossible task for scientists. The mode of action of viruses is to use the cells structures to their own advantage. Once they enter cells, they hijack everything, and pronounce themselves the new owners of the cell machinery. However, recently, some scientists from Philadelphia have managed to devise a method by which the HIV virus was fully erased from human cells. Maybe, it is the beginning of the end of HIV’s reign over mankind?
HIV-1 virus successfully deleted from human cells
The team of scientists successfully deleted the HIV-1 virus from human cells. One of the authors, Kamel Khalili, expressed very positive words concerning the results of their study as follows: “This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS.” The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Enzyme-RNA combination deletes potent HIV virus
The scientists manufactured a set of molecular tools to erase the HIV-1 proviral DNA. DNA can be chipped off by certain enzymes through specific binding. These enzymes are called nucleases. The nuclease was combined with a strand of RNA called a guide RNA (gRNA). This newly-engineered molecular bullet looks up the genome of the virus and deletes the HIV-1 DNA. Once this is done, the virus is no longer as powerful. The human cell takes regains control over itself, and gets its own self repaired.
The nuclease-RNA combination might be used to engineer a therapeutic vaccine.
Cure for AIDS might soon see the light of the day
The next step would be to work out the ways to use the new method in clinical trials. From there on, it would be determined whether the effects would be positive on humans – for that to happen, every copy of the HIV-1 has to be done away with from the cells of the patients. If this becomes possible, AIDS patients will be cured.