Temple University researchers announced Monday that they have successfully eliminated the HIV virus from cultured human cells.

The research team is lead by Kamel Khalili, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple and Wenhui Hu, MD, PHD, the Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Temple, according to NBC Philadelphia.

“This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS,” Dr. Khalili told NBC. “It’s an exciting discovery, but it’s not yet ready to go into the clinic. It’s a proof of concept that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Khalili, Hu and their team worked to delete the HIV-1 proviral DNA. They used a DNA-snipping enzyme (nuclease) and a targeting strand of RNA (guide RNA or gRNA) to find the viral genome and remove the HIV-1 DNA.

Once the HIV-1 DNA is removed, the cell’s gene repairs itself, creating a virus-free cell.

Khalili said they are working to create a way to get the therapeutic agent to every infected cell of a patient. He noted treatment may have to be individualized for each unique viral sequence of HIV-1.

Click here to find out more on NBC Philadelphia.

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