Israeli researchers may have found a cure for HIV

Israeli researchers have developed a new technology that makes it possible to create white blood cells capable of fighting HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS. Scientists hope that this method, which uses the CRISPR genome editing system, can lead to a unique effective treatment for HIV and other diseases.

“We have developed an innovative treatment that could defeat the virus with a single injection, with the potential to significantly improve the patient’s condition,” said Dr Adi Barzel of Tel Aviv University, who led the study with doctoral student Alessio Nehmad.

HIV attacks the white blood cells in the body, which weakens the immune system. There is no cure for this virus, although it is now more of a chronic disease than a death sentence as it once was – if appropriate treatments are available. available.

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Researchers from Tel Aviv University, along with other Israeli and American scientists, say they genetically engineered type B white blood cells to secrete antibodies to HIV. This technique has proven effective on animals.

The new treatment involves injecting genetically modified type B white blood cells into a patient’s body, which prompts the immune system to secrete antibodies to fight off the HIV virus.

Type B cells, which are a kind of white blood cells, create antibodies that fight off viruses, bacteria, and other invaders. The Israeli team used the CRISPR genome editing system to introduce encoded antibodies into the body’s B cells.

The CRISPR genome editing system is a way to permanently modify DNA to attack the root causes of a disease. CRISPR is a tool that allows DNA to be cut at a precise location with microscopic “scissors” and by modifying it. The method is used to treat certain genetic disorders and considerable efforts are being made to expand its use.

Nehmad explained that “when CRISPR cuts the desired place in the B cell genome, it directs the introduction of the desired gene – the gene coding for the antibody against HIV”.

When the modified B cells encounter the virus in the body, the presence of the virus stimulates the B cells and prompts them to divide.

“We use the very cause of the disease to fight it,” Barzel said.

“We have therefore created the first drug capable of evolving in the body and defeating the viruses in full proliferation”.

“We produced the antibody from blood and made sure it was actually effective in neutralizing HIV in the lab,” Barzel said. “All animals that received the treatment reacted and showed high amounts of the desired antibody in their blood. »

The researchers hope that, in the years to come, this technology will lead to the production of a drug against AIDS and other infectious diseases, including certain types of cancer.

The study was published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature.

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