University of Nebraska Medical Center announces HIV research breakthrough

Grant Boone
July 4, 2019

Senior author Kamel Khalili, Ph.D., professor and chair of neuroscience at Temple's Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, is the founder and principal scientific advisor of Philadelphia-based Excision.

'There was a lot of frustration, self-introspection, denials, reaffirmation, and just laborious day by day activities to prove it, ' Dr Gendelman said.

Once inside those reservoirs, the nanocrystals slowly dissolve, releasing ART into the hardest-to-access spots over a longer period of time.

"We have to make sure that they're safe, that they're effective and that they don't have the side effects because when we move into patients we want to make sure that that first patient tested is experiencing something that will be safe for them", president and CEO of UNeMed Corp., Michael Dixon said.

If a patient stops taking the drugs, HIV is able to rebound because the virus is able to "integrate its DNA sequence into the genomes of cells of the immune system, where it lies dormant and beyond the reach of antiretroviral drugs", according to a press release. The researchers explained that it will take time to conduct trials on humans.

The CRISPR treatment was combined with antiretroviral drugs, which suppressed the spread of HIV within the infected mice's cells, while the gene editing was used to target fragments of the virus' DNA, Stat News reported.

"The big message of this work is that it takes both CRISPR-Cas9 and virus suppression through a method such as LASER ART, administered together, to produce a cure for HIV infection", Drs.

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Similar to ART, however, gene editing can not completely eliminate HIV on its own. "As the exclusive license holders from Temple on the technology and patents behind these innovations, Excision is working closely with the team to bring these advances to human clinical trials and to patients in need around the world", said Daniel Dornbusch, CEO of Excision BioTherapeutics.

To mimic HIV infection in mice, the researchers first created what they call "humanized mice".

'We were pleasantly surprised, ' Dr Khalili said.

Khalili added: "We're pretty confident with the outcome and very pleased to see that in small animals, using the technology and method we developed, one can achieve what we call a sterilizing cure, or elimination of the virus".

"This concept of combining both modalities provides a pathway forward to future studies in humans", Dr. Gendelman said. It's a promising development in the battle against HIV and AIDS, but more work is required before clinical trials can begin.

With an estimated 19.6 million people in East and Southern Africa - 1.5 million Kenyans - living with HIV and about 380,000 recorded deaths, the journey to getting a cure seems to be nearing the homestretch.

These days, we have incredibly effective drugs (called ART, or anti-retroviral therapy) that suppress the virus to such an extent that it is undetectable, and can not be transmitted to another person.

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