A team of researchers at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard and the Broad Institute of MIT And Harvard have recently identified human genes that could be the key to a gene therapy-based HIV treatment.
Using a technique called CRISPR-Cas9, the researchers scanned the genes of human T cells (the cells that are primarily targeted and invaded by HIV) to identify genes that enable the cells to be infected by HIV.
"Viruses are very small and have few genes -- HIV has only 9, while humans have more than 19,000 -- so viruses commandeer human genes to make essential building blocks for their replication. Our goal was to identify human genes, also called host genes, that are absolutely essential for HIV to replicate but could be eliminated without harming a human patient," said Bruce Walker, M.D., director of the Ragon Institute and co-corresponding author of the article published in Nature Genetics.
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