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After decades of efforts, researchers hope they're closer to a functional cure for HIV

Gene Editing HIV
Maureen Metcalfe, Tom Hodge
/
CDC/AP
This 2011 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control shows HIV virions. On Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, scientists are reporting the first use of the gene-editing tool CRISPR to try to cure a patient's HIV infection by providing blood cells that have been altered to resist the AIDS virus.

It was 1981 when five patients in California developed symptoms of a mysterious disease.

The virus that causes AIDS was identified a few years later, and a blood test for HIV became available in 1985.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, contracting HIV was practically a death sentence. Nothing seemed to stop the virus from attacking a patient’s immune system and progressing into AIDS.

And while there are now treatments that can render the virus undetectable in a patient’s bloodstream, a cure for HIV has been elusive.

University of Cincinnati researchers hope to crack the code.

They are more than three years into the TRAILBLAZER study, a new effort to find a functional cure for the virus. But it will be at least another year before they know if their gene-editing approach works.

On Cincinnati Edition, we’ll discuss the history of AIDS, why it’s been so difficult to cure HIV, and how the treatment being studied seeks to overcome those obstacles.

Guests:

  • Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, UC Health physician and UC College of Medicine professor in the division of infectious diseases and a principal investigator on the TRAILBLAZER study
  • Carl Fox, Covington resident participating in the TRAILBLAZER study
  • Adam Reilly, Caracole manager of HIV prevention, testing and education

Listen to Cincinnati Edition live at noon M-F. Audio for this segment will be uploaded after 4 p.m. ET.

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