Scientists remove HIV cells with enzyme

Last Updated: Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 15:17

Berlin: German scientists have created an enzyme to remove HIV from infected cells in mice, an innovative method that can lead to a cure for the deadly virus.

Researchers at the Dresden University of Technology used a genetic modification technique and managed to develop an enzyme that can identify a sequence of the virus and remove it with 90 per cent accuracy.

"The amount of virus was clearly reduced, and even no longer to be found in the blood," said Professor Joachim Hauber, head of the antiviral strategy section at partner research institute, Hamburg's Heinrich Pette Institute.

Hauber said this method was the only one so far which could actually reverse an HIV infection, leaving the treated cells healthy, 'The Local' reported.

Clinical trials can establish whether this approach would be successful with people, Hauber said.

The 'molecular scissors' could be ready to use in ten years time - as a somatic genetic therapy - using a patient's own genetically modified cells, Dresden team leader, Professor Frank Buchholz said.

"Blood would be taken from patients and the stem cells which can form blood cells, removed," he said.

Laboratory work would introduce the crucial HIV-cutting enzyme into the stem cells, altering their DNA. They would then be put back into the patient.

"There are various methods and similar approaches, but removing the virus from infected cells is unique," Hauber said.

The theory is that the genetically altered immune cells would reproduce, cut the HIV from infected cells - enabling them to function again, the report said.


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First Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 - 15:08

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