Modern medicine is evolving day by day, and there is no surprise that in 2019, scientists are fighting against diseases by using gene-editing tools to edit damaged genes from the human body. Now it’s time for a patient with HIV from China to experience such an innovative medical invention.
At only 27 years old, a Chinese patient diagnosed with AIDS and acute lymphoblastic leukemia received a bone marrow transplant to become healthy again. Nothing surprising here, but the big news is that a group of scientists from Peking University in Beijing utilized the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 to delete the gene called CCR5 from stem cells.
The gene CCR5 is known for contributing to HIV infection, so scientists decided that it’s a good idea to attack it. And doctors are pretty optimistic about the procedure, saying that it will treat the patient’s cancer and even eliminate the HIV infection. Nineteen months after the process, the patient showed significant improvements and didn’t show signs of any awkward side effects.
Once Again, Chinese Scientists Used Gene-Editing Tool To Help HIV Patients
The attempt of scientists of fighting HIV by using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 was published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Lead scientist Deng Hongkui told CNN the following: “After being edited, the cells — and the blood cells they produce — can resist HIV infection.”
Doctors started to treat the young patient back in 2017 when he received a bone marrow transplant. But by the early stages of 2019, his leukemia was unfortunately in full remission. Now it looks like the new stem cells of the patient did not completely eliminate the HIV infection from its body, because the young Chinese lacks enough stem cells to treat the disease and the cells from the transplanted bone marrow carried only 5 percent to 8 percent of the edited CCR5.
Although we can’t be sure that the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 completely cured the HIV infection, Deng Hongkui said that one key finding for the safety and feasibility of genetically-edited stem cells as a treatment for HIV is that the procedure using CRISPR-Cas9 didn’t produce any adverse effects. Deng added the following: “In the future, further improving the efficiency of gene-editing and optimizing the transplantation procedure should accelerate the transition to clinical applications.”