San Antonio, Texas—Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has dramatically improved the quality of life of people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus can become undetectable in the blood; however, infected patients are not cured. HIV inserts itself into the cell genome and stays silent in the body, where ART cannot be effective, causing researchers to seek new strategies to eradicate the virus.
Binhua “Julie” Ling, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Texas Biomedical Research Institute (Texas Biomed), is a Principal Investigator and co-corresponding author on a new study published in Nature Communications, where scientists effectively removed inserted Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) from many tissues in the body, using the CRISPR-based genome editing system delivered by an adeno-associated virus vector. SIV infection in rhesus macaque non-human primates is similar to HIV infection in humans. This innovative approach moves researchers a step closer to eradicating HIV. Dr. Ling led the animal study at Tulane University before relocating to Texas Biomed.
“I am very happy that this rhesus macaque model of SIV infection that my laboratory has studied for HIV research for nearly two decades, enabled this exciting discovery.” she said. “For the first time, we tested the proof-of-concept of the gene-editing technology in virus removal in non-human primates, and the results bring us to a new avenue in the search to cure HIV infection.”
Other principal investigators and co-corresponding authors include Andrew MacLean, Ph.D., Tulane University, along with Tricia Burdo, Ph.D., and Kamel Khalili, Ph.D., both of Temple University.