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Combination CRISPR, Antiretroviral Therapy Strategy Shows Promise for HIV in Animal Study

An HIV treatment strategy that combines CRISPR gene editing with antiretroviral drugs has proven effective in eliminating infection in mice, according to a study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. A functional cure of HIV has been documented in at least three cases, all of which involved allogenic hematopoietic stem-cell transplants, making them impractical for widespread use. Current standard HIV treatments comprise antiretroviral therapy (ART) with broadly neutralizing antibodies that can reduce infectious virus but not eliminate it since the virus establishes latency in certain immune cells. Aiming to overcome this barrier to a cure, a Temple University-led team led developed CRISPR-based drugs that target a key HIV coreceptor and a protein involved in viral assembly. They treated mouse models of human HIV infection with ART to suppress viral replication, followed by the CRISPR agents, which lead to viral elimination in tissue reservoirs of the infected animals with no signs of gene editing-related off-target effects. These results, the study's authors write, suggest that the approach could be translated to the clinic.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.