New technology offers a new and unique treatment for AIDS which may be developed into a vaccine or a one-time treatment for patients with HIV, according to a new study from Tel Aviv University published in Nature.
The study was led by Dr. Adi Barzel and the Ph.D. student Alessio Nehmad, both from the school of neurobiology, biochemistry, and biophysics at the George S. Wise faculty of life sciences, in collaboration with other researchers from Isreal and the USA.
The research involves the injection of genetically-engineered type B-white blood cells into a patient to catalyze the immune system to secrete anti-HIV antibodies in response to the virus. The type B white blood was engineered using CRISPR technology.
“We developed an innovative treatment that may defeat the virus with a one-time injection, with the potential of bringing about tremendous improvement in the patient’s condition. When the engineered B cells encounter the virus, the virus stimulates and encourages them to divide, so we are utilizing the very cause of the disease to combat it. Furthermore, if the virus changes, the B cells will also change accordingly in order to combat it, so we have created the first medication ever that can evolve in the body and defeat viruses in the ‘arms race.” Dr. Barzel explained
There is currently no permanent cure or genetic treatment for AIDS. The researchers believe this study may open doors of opportunities that would provide patients living with HIV with a permanent cure.
“Until now, only a few scientists, and we among them, had been able to engineer B cells outside of the body. In this study, we were the first to do this within the body and then make those cells generate the desired antibodies. The genetic engineering is conducted with viral carriers derived from viruses that were also engineered. We did this to avoid causing any damage, and solely bring the gene code for the antibody into the B cells in the body.” Dr. Barzel said in a statement.
Source: Tel Aviv University (TAU)