Scientists at Northwestern Medicine are using the latest advances in CRISPR biomedical technology to discover new biological potential that could lead to long-term treatment and new ways of treating HIV.
HIV was rejected during the COVID-19 catastrophe but represents a significant threat to development human health with an estimated 1.5 million new infections in the last year alone.
Drug developers and research teams have been searching for new treatments for AIDS for over 40 years but are limited in their understanding of how the virus builds up infection in human body. How does this tiny micro-organism with only 12 proteins – and one-third the size of SARS-CoV-2 – steal cells to copy and propagate in the system?
A disciplinary team in the Northwest sought to answer that question.
In a new study of the group, published today (April 1) in the journal Environmental communicationScientists have used the new CRISPR correction system to identify human genes those that are important for the transmission of HIV in the blood, identify 86 genes that may play a role in the transmission of HIV and cause infections, including over 40 who have never been exposed to the virus HIV infection.
The study suggested a new map to understand how HIV binds to our DNA and establishes routine infections.
“Antiretroviral drugs are one of our most important tools in the fight against HIV and have been very effective in suppressing the disease. copy virus and dissemination, ”says Judd Hultquist, co-author. Affordable health care – this is not the only issue. the world in which we live. “
Hultquist says with a better understanding of how the virus reproduces, treatment can be a cure one day.
Hultquist is an assistant director of the Center for Pathogen Genomics and Evolution at Northwestern University at Feinberg School of Medicine and works as an assistant professor of medicine at Feinberg.
A path without compromise
So far, research has relied on the use of undetectable human cancer cells (such as HeLa cells) as a model to study how HIV transmits in the lab. While these cells are easy to process in the laboratory, they are imperfect human blood cells. In addition, many of these studies use technology to eliminate the appearance of certain organisms, but they are not completely eliminated as CRISPR, meaning scientists cannot always determine the appearance or specificity of a cell. it is involved in helping or eliminating the bacterial infection.
“With the CRISPR system, there is no interference – the cell is on or off,” Hultquist said. “This ability to activate cells in cells that isolate them directly from human blood is a game changer – this new study is the largest representation of what happens in the body during HIV infection that we can easy to study in the laboratory. “
In the study, T-cells of a large type of HIV-targeted cell membrane were isolated from donated human blood, and hundreds of cells were implicated using CRISPR-modified mutations. Cas9. Knock-out cells are HIV-positive and have been tested. Cells that have lost a significant cell for a copy of the virus have shown a reduction in infection, while Cells who lost an antiviral substance showed an increased risk of infection.
It was then that the team verified the findings by selecting them among the new contributors, where they found almost even falsified new discoveries and those that had been thoroughly researched.
Moving to treatment for HIV
Hultquist says their findings represent a “complete breakdown” of the myth and the facts to know they are doing something right.
“This is a great proof of concept that the steps and steps we have taken to conduct the study have been robust and well thought out,” Hultquist said. “Nearly half of the genes we have identified in the past have been found to be invasive in our data. An interesting aspect is that more than half – 46 – of these. organic matter HIV status has never been observed infectionthey therefore represent the most appropriate treatment options for review. “
The team is excited to continue to develop this technology to enable the identification of genetic domains where they replicate themselves or activate any cell in the human genome to detect all possible pathogens of HIV. These data will represent an important area in the puzzle, which will bring them closer to therapeutic strategies.
The study was a collaboration between Hultquist Northwest and Alexander Marson and Nevan Krogan at the University of California, San Francisco.
Joseph Hiatt et al, A functional map of HIV-mediated interactions in early human T cells, Environmental communication (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-022-29346-w
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