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Possible Cure for HIV and AIDS Just a Few Years Away, Researchers Say

Apr 05, 2016 11:19 AM EDT
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After years of research, scientists have taken a giant leap in the fight against the incurable HIV/AIDS after successfully devising a way to snip or "delete" the virus from infected cells and prevent it from coming back.

According to the study published in Nature journal Scientific Reports, the new method of curing HIV works by targeting the genetic code of HIV that goes inside the cell.

The new method uses the protein Cas9, which was modified in order to recognize HIV's genetic code that inserts itself in the cells.

Blood from HIV patients will be taken and mixed with the modified Cas9 protein. This protein will then seek out the HIV DNA in the immune cells.

Once the modified Cas9 recognized HIV's genetic code, an enzyme will be released to remove the sequence, snipping away the virus.

After the process, the "clean" blood will be injected back to the patient.

According to a report from The Telegraph, scientists believe that 20 percent of immune cells replaced with the genetically altered cells is all that is necessary to cure the disease.

The new discovery has a lot of promise, but as of the moment, it still cannot be used and applied.

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, attacks the immune system, making infected people more susceptible to diseases that may result to death.

At present, HIV only has treatments but no cure. A treatment called "antiretroviral therapy" can only help patients with HIV live longer and healthier lives.

But if the medication is not taken regularly, there is a possibility of drug resistance and treatment failure, according to AIDS Info.

In the United States, more than 1.2 million people aged 13 years and older are living with HIV infection. These include more than 150,000 people who are unaware that they have the infection, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC also estimated that there are about 50,000 people being infected by HIV every year.

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