HIV Can Be Cut Out of Cells With Molecular Scissors, German Researchers Find
Well, that's German innovation for you: If you don't want HIV in a cell, just snip it out. According to researchers from the nation's Dresden University, it might be possible to get rid of HIV by using "molecular scissors" to cut away the virus from the DNA of infected cells. While there have been a ton of gains made this year in related HIV research, this is the first way that scientists have found to essentially reverse the HIV infection and leave the once-affected cells healthy.
The process involves taking blood from patients and separating out stem cells, which would later become blood cells. Then a lab-engineered enzyme that seeks out HIV (to the tune of 90 percent accuracy) and acts as the 'scissors' would be introduced. From there, the genetically altered blood cells would be put back into the body to reproduce, cutting away the HIV as they go and letting once-affected cells function normally again.
The mice used in the new research saw dramatic improvement in the amount of HIV in their bloodstream — even to the point of essentially being cured. "The amount of virus was clearly reduced, and even no longer to be found in the blood," Professor Joachim Hauber of Hamburg's Heinrich Pette Institute said.
So far, however, the procedure has just been carried out on lab mice. In order to see whether it works for humans, the researchers would need to launch a clinical trial, and the funds simply aren't there right now. German pharmaceutical companies have shown little research interest in finding a potential cure for AIDS, Hauber said. (Really?)
President of the German AIDS Society, Professor Jürgen Rockstroh, was ecstatic over the potential application of the findings.
"It is one of the most exciting things of all," he said. "There is a vague hope of cure, but that must first be proven."
Soooo, anyone want to put on a fundraiser?