Chi­nese sci­en­tists use CRISPR tool on HIV pa­tient for the first time

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Trends -

Sci­en­tists are re­port­ing the first use of CRISPR, a gene-edit­ing tool, to try to cure a pa­tient’s HIV in­fec­tion by pro­vid­ing blood cells that were al­tered to re­sist the AIDS virus.

The re­port in the ‘New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine’, by dif­fer­ent Chi­nese re­searchers, is the first pub­lished ac­count of us­ing CRISPR to treat a disease in an adult, where the DNA changes are con­fined to that per­son. The at­tempt was suc­cess­ful in some ways but fell short of be­ing an HIV cure. Still, it shows that gene edit­ing holds prom­ise and seems pre­cise and safe in this pa

tient so far, said Carl June, a Uni­ver­sity of Pennsylvan­ia ge­net­ics ex­pert.

Gene edit­ing per­ma­nently al­ters DNA. CRISPR is a new tool sci­en­tists can use to cut DNA at a spe­cific spot. The case in­volves a 27-year-old man with HIV who needed a blood stem cell trans­plant. The trans­plant put his can­cer in re­mis­sion, and the cells that were al­tered are still work­ing 19 months later. But they com­prise only 5% to 8% of such blood cells, so they’re out­num­bered by ones that can still be in­fected. “They need to ap­proach 90% or more, I think, to ac­tu­ally have a chance of cur­ing HIV,” June said.

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