2022-06-21| R&DTechnology

This One-Time Injection Could Cure AIDS

by Fujie Tham
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A study by researchers from Tel Aviv University revealed insights into a unique AIDS treatment that may be developed into a vaccine or a single injection treatment for AIDS patients. The research explored the engineering of B cells in patients to secrete anti-HIV antibodies in response to counter the virus.

The paper published in Nature Biotechnology is the first to engineer B cells in the body (in-vivo), the team demonstrated that these modified cells in all model animals responded well and produced high concentrations of the desired antibody in their blood.

In-vivo B cell engineering to express therapeutic antibodies is a safe, potent, and scalable method, which may be applicable not only to infectious diseases but also in the treatment of non-communicable conditions, such as cancer and autoimmune disease,” the authors said. 

Related article: Massive Human CRISPR-Based Genotype-Phenotype Map Is Now Complete


CRISPR to Direct Genes Insertion Into B Cells


Lead author, PhD student Alessio Nehmad and the team incorporated CRISPR and viral carriers to introduce edits and carry desired genes to target B cells, this combination allowed gene editing inside a patient’s body. Two viral vectors of the adeno-associated viruses (AAV) family were used, the first contains instructions for the desired antibodies and the second codes for the CRISPR system. 

When CRISPR identifies and cuts the target site in the B cell genome, it then inserts the gene coding for the HIV antibody. After intravenously injecting the vectors into mice, successful editing of B cells led to memory retention and antibody secretion at neutralizing titers of up to 6.8 µg ml−1.

Trying to address the lack of any genetic treatments for AIDS, the team stated that the treatment may treat HIV infection with just a single injection and improve patients’ conditions. When the engineered B cells encounter the virus, this will stimulate the cells to divide and eliminate the HIV viruses, proving to be an effective treatment option for AIDS.

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