You are here

Two breakthroughs

Complete elimination 

Using gene-editing technology (known as CRISPR) scientists have successfully removed HIV implanted into mice —the first time complete elimination has been achieved in live animals. The breakthrough study included a ‘humanised’ model in which mice were transplanted with HIV DNA. These latest findings build on previous research that saw the partial deletion of HIV. This time, following a single treatment, the virus was eradicated from every tissue and organ.

“We have confirmed the data from our previous work and have improved the efficiency of our gene-editing strategy,” said lead researcher Dr Wen Hui of the Lewis Katz School of Medicine (pictured). “We also show the strategy is effective in two additional mouse models: one representing acute infection in mouse cells and the other representing latent infection in human cells.” The new study marks another major step forward in the pursuit of a permanent cure for HIV, and paves the way for a human clinical trial of CRISPR. 

Reservoir reduction 

In another first, a drug has proved successful at reducing the viral reservoir in some people with HIV. Results from a Phase II trial has shown the therapy — called ABX464 — can target viral DNA that hides within blood cells. Despite the groundbreaking results, Jean-Marc Steens of French biotech company Abivax admits there is still a lot more to do. “We saw an average decrease of 40 percent of the viral reservoir, which is probably not enough.”

Also, ABX464 only appeared to work in 50 percent of participants. At this stage, Sheen can only speculate the reasons why: “These could include the length of treatment they were on in the past, whether they were treated early or late in their infection, and what type of medication they have been receiving in the past.” Discovering a way to eradicate the HIV reservoir would be a major breakthrough in cure research. Some HIV cells are able to evade treatment, remaining dormant for years, only to suddenly reactivate and start producing more HIV. 

For more cure news head to HIV Cure

latest news

March 29, 2018
We’re not talking about recovery parties here, but the post-recovery recovery when the festivities have ended.
March 21, 2018
The world has lost one of the most respected scientists in the field of HIV/AIDS, Professor David Cooper.
March 21, 2018
The cost of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is to be drastically reduced from 1 April
February 12, 2018
The annual awareness day on 9 March is aimed at encouraging women to test for HIV.
January 22, 2018
Once again, 9 March commemorates the National Day of Women Living with HIV Australia. 
August 22, 2017
A decision to subsidise PrEP has been deferred, much to the disappointment and frustration of HIV advocates.
July 26, 2017
Results from an Australian study show that HIV-positive men on treatment cannot transmit the virus.
June 22, 2017
Why is an easily curable disease once believed to be on the wane in Australia out of control?
June 6, 2017
Real-life exchanges between people on Grindr are at the centre of a new campaign spotlighting HIV stigma.
June 5, 2017
This year marks the 30th anniversary of ACT UP and many of today’s survivors were yesterday’s activists.
June 5, 2017
Here, a group of long-term survivors shed light on on the dark days of the AIDS epidemic. 
June 5, 2017
Using gene-editing technology, scientists successfully eliminate HIV in live animals. 
June 5, 2017
A grassroots organisation is calling for Australia's blood donation rules to be relaxed.
June 5, 2017
HIV enters the brain within the early stages of infection — just a matter of a few weeks. 
June 5, 2017
David Menadue rifles through the PL archives to look back at the watershed year of 1996.