My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Pittsburgh and Temple University used CRISPR-Cas9 to eliminate HIV-1 in Mice

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

How Pittsburgh and Temple University used CRISPR-Cas9 to eliminate HIV-1 in Mice

“The next stage would be to repeat the study in primates, a more suitable animal model where HIV infection induces disease, in order to further demonstrate elimination of HIV-1 DNA in latently infected T cells and other sanctuary sites for HIV-1, including brain cells. Our eventual goal is a clinical trial in human patients.”


Comment by co-author of the study Dr. Khalili on using CRISPR-Cas9 to stop HIV from replicating


Infections from the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) may soon be a thing of the past.


This as scientists from University of Pittsburgh and Temple University's Lewis Katz School of Medicine have developed a technique to remove the virus that casues AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) using CRISPR-Cas9 as declared in the article “Scientists can eliminate HIV infection in mice using CRISPR”, published May 03, 2017 by Marcia Galluci, Mashable.

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First published in the journal Molecular Therapy under the title In Vivo Excision of HIV-1 Provirus by saCas9 and Multiplex Single-Guide RNAs in Animal Models, the team demonstrated that they were able to completely remove all traces of the HIV virus within mouse organs and tissue.
But stopping a virus in its track is a huge breakthrough and opens up the possibility of using CRISPR-Cas9 against every disease known to man.


University of Pittsburgh and Temple University and CRISPR-Cas9 -  Stopping HIV-1 from reproducing


CRISPR-Cas9 (Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) has already being used by researchers to do some remarkable things.


It already had shown great potential in eliminating Congenital disease in humans as noted in my blog article entitled “Netherland's Plan to create Artificial Wombs, improve invitro-fertilization and eradicate Genetic Diseases”.  

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Currently suffers from the symptoms of HIV have to take toxic concoction of antiretroviral medications to suppress the virus from replicating. The researcher, however, demonstrated that it was possible to use CRISPR-Cas9 to remove the HIV-1 DNA from the genetic code from infected cells, effectively stopping the virus from replicating.


What the team did was genetically inactivated HIV-1 in the mice, by stopping RNA, the genetic messenger that relaying the toxic information, from expressing its viral genes by 60% to 95%.


So how did they do it?


CRISPR-Cas9 used to stop HIV - First Mice next humans


The scientists used their CRISPR-Cas9 tool in three (3) scientific models


They used it on genetically modified "transgenic" mice in which they introduced inactivated the HIV-1 virus by reducing the RNA expression of viral genes. This means the RNA in the HIV-1 virus could not reproduce as it couldn't relay its viral code

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The other two (2) models were mice that had been engrafted with human immune cells, including T cells, making them the closest thing to a human model possible. Finally a third batch of mice were infected with a latent HIV-1 that would have minimal effect on the mice, with the virus lying dormant in their cells.


Using CRISPR/Cas9, researchers were able to block replication of the virus. They demonstrated that they could potentially prevent systemic infection, affairs in the medical field. they also successfully removed viral fragments of the infected human cells embedded in mouse tissues and organs.


Human trial may take years, especially as  HIV-1 virus can hide in the the Immune system and the brain as pointed out by Dr. Khalili, quote: "a more suitable animal model where HIV infection induces disease, in order to further demonstrate elimination of HIV-1 DNA in latently infected T cells and other sanctuary sites for HIV-1, including brain cells. Our eventual goal is a clinical trial in human patients.”

Human trials might take years to conduct, with primate being the first human-like test subjects. if they are successful, we may not need a cure for HIV; we may make ourselves immune by disable the HIV-1 virus from being able to replicate in the first place.



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