Using “genetic scissors”, humans are expected to completely remove HIV from the body.

Scientists in Hamburg, Germany, are using new gene and cell therapy to fight AIDS. With the support of Provirex, a Hamburg biotech start-up, researchers are developing a new treatment based on “gene scissors” to “cut” the hiv protovirus from the genomes of infected cells and eliminate the virus.

If clinically successful, it will be the first time in human history that HIV has been completely removed from the body, and previous treatment for AIDS has only inhibited the replication and reproduction of the virus.

According to a recent report by the Max Planck Institute in Germany, the basic concept seditutinis comes from three German research institutions: the Heinrich Pett Institute (HPI), the Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics at Mapu institute and the Technical University of Dresden. They co-developed and optimized “gene scissors”: a recombinant enzyme called Brec1 was designed. Brec1 recombinase identifies clinically common HIV strains and safely and accurately “cut” the integrated primary virus in the chromosome group of infected cells. A potential virus genome that exists within the host chromosome.

HPI and Hamburg-Efendordorf Medical Center (UKE) are collaborating on a clinical trial of the method. First, UKE’s stem cell transplant department will evaluate stem cell treatment for eight HIV patients. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Hamburg Senate, and the Company’s EkFS subsidiary, ForTra gGmbH f?r Forschungstransfer, have invested and resources in this effort.

Katharina Fegebank, a German senator and former mayor of Hamburg, said: “Provirex, a start-up in Hamburg, can make a decidedly contribution to the fight against HIV. This new treatment is expected to free the patient’s cells from HIV infection permanently. “

“This could be a milestone in the fight against AIDS,” said Joachim Hauber, a researcher at the Heinrich Pett Institute. “

HIV, like other retroviruses, replicates its genetic material and replicates it into the body’s host genome. While current antiretroviral therapy is effective in curbing HIV reproduction, it does not eradicate such integrated viruses. The virus can therefore lurk during treatment and re-replicate once the treatment is discontinued.

Researchers in Hamburg, Germany, developed a recombinant enzyme called Brec1 using “molecular directional evolution”, an important tool for protein modification. Previously, they had conducted cell tests and laboratory mice. Experiments have shown that this recombinant enzyme can locate and identify more than 90% of clinically common HIV strains, and can safely and accurately in the chromosome group of infected cells completely “cut” the integrated original virus.

A potential virus genome that exists within the host chromosome. The findings, published in 2016 by Nature Biotechnology (NBT), an international leading academic journal, show that this method does not disrupt the function of host cells and normal genes. After the original virus is removed, the immune system, which is disturbed by the genetic material of HIV, is expected to return to normal.