Why Gene Editing?
A genetic approach can offer a novel, safe and effective tool for the permanent elimination of HIV DNA from infected cells and possible cure of HIV.
Soon after initial HIV infection, the viral genome is converted from RNA to DNA and inserts into the host’s genetic code. This serves as a template to produce new viruses. Gene editing with CRISPR/Cas9 can be used to remove the viral DNA. It can also be used to enhance the body’s immune system to prevent re-activation of the virus.
CRISPR tools originally derive from an adaptive defense system found in most bacteria. The CRISPR/Cas9 system is composed of two elements: the nuclease protein Cas9, which cuts the DNA, and the guide RNA (gRNA) molecules that guide the Cas9 protein to specific DNA sequences. After cutting and removing the viral DNA, HIV is unable to replicate and the host’s DNA repairs itself.