On May 3, 2017 Molecular Therapy published the results of an American group’s progress to suppress virus replication of the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and therapy for the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).   

According to the WHO’s statistics, at the end of 2015, there were 36.7 million people infected worldwide with HIV. Although there are therapies which limit the spread of the virus throughout the body, there is not yet a treatment which can totally eradicate the virus or cure AIDS, including symptoms of the immune system cell destruction by the HIV.

The scientists removed the HIV from mice cells with the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique, excising the DNA fragments modified by the virus. In addition to eradicating the genome in the infected mice, the replication of the virus was significantly decreased in all 3 groups of mice used for the experiment (one group infected with human HIV, one group having received injections of human cells affected by HIV, and a group of “transgenic” mice that were also contaminated.

The Director at the Pasteur Institute, Professor Olivier Schwartz, declares the results to be « potentially interesting”. But he also states, “one mustn’t jump to conclusions for human therapy. (…) the amount of viral RNA eliminated is insufficient to be qualified as a cure. It is difficult to imagine a therapeutic strategy with CRISPR-Cas9 that could reach all the pernicious dormant cells.”  

Dr Kamel Khalili, one of the co-authors of the article says: “the next step is to carry out research on primates since they are the most reliable animals for studying HIV infection. “