When the search for a cure continues without wavering, there would always be a breakthrough. This is also true for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV. Though it has been a frustrating challenge to Scientists for a good period of time now, respite seems to have arrived in the form of gene therapy. Scientists think gene therapy may be the key to defeating HIV for the following reasons:
1. GENE EDITING: The idea of gene editing came about as a result of a human body’s typical way of rejecting foreign cells. Scientists now went around it by obtaining T cells from the blood of HIV patients. Through the use of a term which they call a ‘gene editing technique’, they are able to remove the HIV genes from the infected cells. After doing this, the cells are then infused back into the body of the HIV patient it was drawn from. Being that the body recognizes the cell, it would not reject it like it would a foreign cell. Although this test has only been done in a laboratory dish, it is expected to be a success when administered as an injection into the human body. Here is a closer look at that please.
2. MUTATED CCR5 GENES: The CCR5 gene is a protein found in the human body needed by HIV to be able to get into the immune system, otherwise known as the T cells. However, there are people who have both of their CCR5 genes mutated. In simple terms, their altered genes prevent them from getting infected by HIV. For those who have only one of their CCR5 gene mutated, the progress of their HIV infection to AIDS is rather slow. It was this discovery that led to the development of the HIV drug therapy over two decades ago which blocks CCR5. Today, it is no longer about CCR5 inspiring the development of the HIV drug therapy, it is the inspiration behind Gene Therapy.
3. ZINC FINGER NUCLEASES: There were enzymes used which made gene editing possible. It is worth noting that this is the first time a therapeutic use was made of gene editing and that Zinc Finger Nucleases was used as an enzyme. They serve the purpose of making the editing of genome possible through the creation of double strand breaks in a person’s DNA. These DNA-binding proteins are engineered to target specific locations in the DNA.
Gene therapy may be the key to defeating HIV because it makes use of the observation made on how a mutated CCR5 is immune to HIV. By using the Zinc Finger Nucleases as an enzyme during gene editing, scientists have been able to record a success in the laboratory dish. Hopefully, through the use of injection administration, the gene-edited cell from the body of a HIV patient would be accepted back into the body. This would help HIV patients drop the amount of HIV in their blood and possibly have their CCR5 genes mutated.