Israeli researchers have developed a new technology that engineer white blood cells against disease to fight HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Scientists hope that the method used to edit CRISPR genes could lead to effective treatment for HIV and other diseases.
“We have developed an innovative treatment that can defeat the virus with a temporary injection that has the potential to dramatically improve the patient’s condition,” said Dr. Adi Barzel of Tel Aviv University, who co-led the research with PhD student Alessio Nehmad. .
The HIV virus attacks white blood cells in the body, weakening the immune system. There is no established cure for the disease, although today it used to be a chronic disease rather than the death penalty – if there are appropriate treatments.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University, along with other Israeli and U.S. scientists, say they have genetically engineered type B white blood cells to secrete antibodies to HIV. The technique was seen to be effective in animal models.
The new treatment injects genetically engineered type B white blood cells into a patient’s body to allow the immune system to secrete antibodies to fight the HIV virus.
Type B cells, a type of white blood cell, produce antibodies that fight viruses, bacteria, and other invaders. The Israeli team used CRISPR gene editing technology to incorporate antibodies encoded into B cells in the body.
Gene editing is a way to permanently change DNA to attack the root causes of a disease. CRISPR is a tool for cutting DNA at a specific location. It has been used in the laboratory for a long time and is being tested for other diseases.
Nehmad said in a note to the technology, “When CRISPR cuts the desired site in the B cell genome, it directs the entry of the desired gene – the gene that encodes the antibody against the HIV virus.”
Engineering When B cells encounter a virus in the body, the presence of the virus stimulates B cells and encourages them to divide.
“We’re using the same cause of the disease to address that,” Barzel said. “If the virus changes, B cells will also change accordingly to deal with it, so we have evolved in the body and created the first drug that can defeat the virus in the ‘arms race’.”
“We produced antibodies from the blood and made sure it was really effective in neutralizing the HIV virus on the lab plate,” Barzel said. “All the animal models who were treated responded and had large amounts of antibodies in their blood that they wanted.”
Researchers hope that in the coming years the technology will produce a drug against AIDS and other infectious diseases, including certain types of cancer.
The study was published in the journal Nature on Thursday.