Snipping at HIV’s genome with CRISPR may introduce mutations that help virus resist attack

| | October 18, 2016
hiv infected full
Credit: NIAID, NIH
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

[I]t seems that CRISPR itself may introduce mutations that help HIV resist attack; however, the team behind the work thinks that these problems may be surmountable.

[Virologist Chen Liang at McGill University in Montreal, Canada] believes that the mutations occurred when Cas9 cut the viral DNA. When DNA is cut, its host cell tries to repair the break; in doing so, it sometimes introduces or deletes DNA letters. These ‘indels’ usually inactivate the gene that was cut — which is how CRISPR works. But sometimes this doesn’t happen.

Occasionally, Liang thinks, some of the indels made by the T cell’s machinery leave the genome of the invading HIV able to replicate and infect other cells. And worse, the change in sequence means the virus can’t be recognized and targeted by T cells with the same machinery. This means it becomes resistant to any future attack.

Liang thinks that the challenges seen in this study can be overcome. He suggests inactivating several essential HIV genes at once, or using CRISPR in combination with HIV-attacking drugs.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: HIV Can Mutate to Evade Attempts To Modify It With CRISPR Gene Editing

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