CRISPR not so efficient against HIV

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Plazma Inferno!, Apr 8, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    HIV can defeat efforts to cripple it with CRISPR gene-editing technology, according to new research. And the very act of editing — involving snipping at the virus’s genome — may introduce mutations that help it to resist attack.
    Some researchers aim to edit genes made by the immune cells that HIV usually infects — called T helper cells — so that the virus cannot find a way in. Others take a different tack: equipping the T cells with gene-editing tools so that they can seek and destroy any HIV that infects them.
    This seemed to work when a team of researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, infected T cells that had been given the tools to incapacitate HIV. But two weeks later, they saw that the T cells were pumping out copies of virus particles that had escaped the CRISPR attack. DNA sequencing revealed that the virus had developed mutations very near the sequence that CRISPR’s Cas9 enzyme had been programmed to cut.
    To some extent, this was not a surprise: HIV has already shown the ability to evolve resistance to all manner of antiviral drugs, as well as the human immune system. This happens because its genetic material is copied by enzymes that are prone to error. Most mistakes stop the virus working, but occasionally a mutation is beneficial for HIV, allowing it to evade attack.
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