Scientists Could be Closer to AIDS Cure
Since the start of the deadly AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, scientists have been working towards a cure. Now, they may be close to finding one.
Researchers have developed a method to cut the viral DNA from a person's infected cells. It is called CRISPR/Cas9 and it means the person could be virus-free.
DNA is a substance that carries genetic information in the cells of animals and plants.
This gene-editing took place in a scientific lab, but has not been tested on humans yet.
"It's a big step," said Kamel Khalili, Ph.D. He is lead researcher and chair at the Department of Neuroscience at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He and his team made the discovery.
But more tests have to be done to know if it will be a cure for the millions of patients infected with the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.
Antiretroviral drugs have been doing a good job of keeping the AIDS virus from reproducing. Such a good job that levels of HIV are just about undetectable in infected people who take the medicine.
But even with the drugs, the virus stays in the body's "T-cells," which are T-lymphocytes. AIDS damages the immune system, hurting the body's ability to fight off disease.
So the drugs are kind of a "Band-Aid solution," Khalili explained. They keep the virus from growing. But they do not eliminate the memory of the virus from the cells.
And, the moment antiretroviral drugs are stopped, the HIV comes back to life and begins making more HIV, which is the AIDS virus.
Khalili and his team of scientists appear to have found a way to cut this viral DNA from infected people's cells.
In their lab, they took cells from people infected with the HIV virus. They removed the part of the cell that was holding the virus.
He said they had "in some cases, near 90 percent of the virus replication or production dropped in the patient samples after treatment in the laboratory."
Khalili and his team have not actually cured any patients yet. However, he believes this gene-editing technology could possibly cure AIDS.
"Elimination of the virus can lead to the cure." He said, "it's an exciting time, and the reason is the technologies are available and the methods are in place and our knowledge has increased."
"And hopefully, there will be funding to take us toward this exciting moment for developing the cure strategy by eliminating viral DNA using editing techniques."
He said that he hopes human tests could begin in two to three years. But that depends on funding.
The work was published in the journal Scientific Reports.
HIV/AIDS has been a devastating disease since it was first discovered in the early 1980s. Since then, the World Health Organization says almost 78 million people have been infected with the HIV virus. About 39 million people have died of HIV/AIDS.
At the end of 2013, 35 million people worldwide were living with HIV, according to the WHO.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected by the virus. Nearly 71 percent of people in the world who live with HIV are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
And while the drug therapy can control the virus, not everyone infected can get or afford it. Also, some who take it report side effects.
I'm Anne Ball.
1.close to 接近；靠近
The building is conveniently located close to public transportations．
2.working towards 努力实现
We are all working towards the common objective-communism.
3.took place 发生
Notwithstanding his objections the marriage took place.
4.infected with 感染；传染
I was infected with T. B. without knowing it.
1."Elimination of the virus can lead to the cure."
lead to 导致；通向
That may lead to a serious split in our class.
Reflection on the two roles of the manager will lead to a conclusion.
2.He said that he hopes human tests could begin in two to three years. But that depends on funding.
depends on 取决于；依赖于
Efficiency depends on good organization.
Admission to British universities depends on examination results.
20世纪80年代以来，艾滋病开始流行，科学家们一直都在努力寻找治疗办法 。现在他们发现了一种可能治愈这一不治之症的新疗法 。
卡迈勒·哈利利(Kamel Khalili)博士表示，“这是飞跃性的一步 。”他是宾夕法尼亚州费城坦普尔大学神经科学系的首席研究员兼系主任 。此项研究成果是他与团队共同发现的 。
然而即使服用了这些药物，病毒仍会停留在人体的T细胞内，即T淋巴细胞之中 。艾滋病会破坏人体免疫系统，降低人体抵抗疾病的能力 。
哈利利博士解释说，这些药物只能说是“权宜之计” 。它们可以防止病毒重生，但是它们不能从细胞记忆中彻底清除这种病毒 。
在实验室内，他们从艾滋病患者身上提取了感染细胞 。之后剔除了细胞中的病毒部分 。
哈利利和他的团队尚未临床治愈任何患者 。然而，他坚信这种基因剪辑技术很有可能治愈艾滋病 。
他说，“将病毒清除有望治愈艾滋病，这是一个振奋人心的时刻 。因为技术条件允许，方法已经到位，我们的知识储备也不断增加 。”
自20世纪80年代首次发现艾滋病以来，艾滋病一直是一种毁灭性的疾病 。世界卫生组织表示，此后感染艾滋病毒的人高达7800万，死于艾滋病的人约3900万 。
撒哈拉以南的非洲地区艾滋病感染最为严重 。全球感染HIV病毒的人群中有71%居住在撒哈拉以南的非洲地区 。
虽然药物治疗可以控制病毒，但并不是每一位感染者都能负担得起高额的医药费 。此外，一些患者服药后出现了不良反应 。