HIV has no cure, it’s not quite the implacable scourge it was throughout the 1980s and 1990s, thanks to education, prophylactics, and drugs like PrEP. But still, no cure.
Part of the problem is HIV’s ability to squirrel itself away inside a cell’s DNA, including the DNA of the immune cells that are supposed to be killing it.
The same ability, though, could be HIV’s undoing. All because of CRISPR. You know, CRIPSR: the gene-editing technique that got everyone really excited, then really sceptical, and now cautiously optimistic about curing a bunch of intractable diseases.
Last week, a group of biologists published research detailing how they hid an anti-HIV CRISPR system inside another type of virus capable of sneaking past a host’s immune system.
What’s more, the virus replicated and snipped HIV from infected cells along the way, at this stage, it works in mice and rats, not people.
But as a proof of concept, it means similar systems could be developed to fight a huge range of diseases herpes, cystic fibrosis, and all sorts of cancers.