The fight against HIV/AIDS has taken another huge leap in the right direction thanks to researchers at Temple University.
A team at the school led by the Department of Neuroscience Chair Dr. Kamel Khalili has been able to completely eliminate the HIV virus from human cells. He’s thrilled about the development, but he notes that scientists still have a long way to go before a cure is found.
“This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS,” Kamel told NBC Philadelphia. “It’s an exciting discovery, but it’s not yet ready to go into the clinic. It’s a proof of concept that we’re moving in the right direction.”
Kamel worked alongside Dr. Wenhui Hu, an associate professor of Neuroscience, using a DNA-cutting enzyme and a targeted strand of RNA to find viral genome. With the DNA and RNA working together, the team was able to HIV-1 DNA. That allowed the healthy genes in the cell to repair themselves and create a cell without any trace of the virus.
The next step, in Kamel’s opinion, would be to find a way to get this process to treat every cell of an infected patient.
This comes days after news broke that results from a Journal of American Medical Association study shows that HIV diagnoses have taken a huge dip in the last decade. In 2002, it was reported that 24 out of every 100,000 people had been diagnosed with HIV. By 2012 that had fallen to 16 people out of every 100,000
To put it in better perspective, the journal found that new infections have dropped by 1/3 in the United States. The number of new infections have been on the decline since 2002 in nearly every segment by race and gender, expect in the case of gay and bisexual men.