Can CRISPR Cure HIV?
HIV is estimated to affect almost 40 million individuals worldwide, and remains incurable despite extensive efforts to develop new therapies since its discovery in the 1970s. Viral suppression is currently achievable through anti-retroviral treatments, which can reduce the number of HIV particles in the blood to almost undetectable levels, thus preventing the virus from causing meaningful damage to patients' immune systems and preventing person-to-person transmission.
However, despite the availability of effective anti-retroviral therapy, some individuals living with HIV suffer from HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. These are collectively referred to as HAND, and they greatly impact quality of life.
HAND occurs along a continuum of severity; the most severe form is known as HIV-associated dementia (HAD). The exact pathobiological mechanisms underlying HAND are poorly understood, but it is generally accepted that its progression correlates with HIV infection of multiple cell types in the brain, including astrocytes, microglial cells and macrophages.
The emergence of a broad set of gene-editing tools in recent years offers opportunities to develop new and potentially curative therapies for HIV including therapies to prevent the development of HAND. Progress in this field is discussed in a new review by authors at Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil.
Read the review in AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses here.
Arsenal Biosciences, Inc.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University