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In World First, Scientists Eliminate HIV Using Gene-Editing Therapy and New Drugs

This is the first time the AIDS-causing virus has been completely eradicated from a living creature.

Elias Marat



HIV Gene-Editing Therapy
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(TMU) — Nearly 37 million people across the world are infected with HIV, with nearly 5,000 additional people being infected on a daily basis. And while expensive anti-retroviral therapy (ART) is capable of suppressing the replication of the virus to the point where it’s undetectable in the blood, lifelong usage of the drugs is required or the HIV infection can come back and progress toward full-blown AIDS.

However, researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) have successfully managed to eliminate HIV from infected mice in an important advance against developing a potential cure for those who infected by the life-threatening virus.

The achievement marks the first time that the AIDS-causing virus has been completely eradicated from the genomes of a living creature, according to the study published July 2 in the journal Nature Communications.

Kamel Khalili, PhD, and the Temple research team. Credit: Temple University.

Kamel Khalili, co-senior author of the study and director of Temple’s neurovirology center and its neuroAIDS center, said:

“Our study shows that treatment to suppress HIV replication and gene editing therapy, when given sequentially, can eliminate HIV from cells and organs of infected animals.”

In the study involving 29 mice, researchers used the gene-editing system CRISPR-Cas9 to splice out HIV DNA from the infected cells of mice alongside a new drug regimen called long-acting slow-effective release anti-retroviral therapy, or LASER ART.

LASER ART is an important step forward because it encases HIV antiretroviral drugs in nanocrystals that then travel to those tissues where HIV is lying dormant. The nanocrystals are stashed away within cells for weeks as the drugs are slowly released, decreasing the need for constant ART administration. The new LASER ART system had already shown promise in animal studies as an efficient treatment for HIV.

The mice that were infected with HIV were first given LASER ART treatment before the researchers proceeded to the CRISPR gene editing stage. After the one-two punch, nearly forty percent of the mice showed no sign of the virus, according to the team.

However, when mice were only treated to either LASER ART therapy or CRISPR gene editing, the results showed “viral rebound in 100% of treated infected animals.”

Khalili explained to TIME magazine:

“Over the years, we have looked at HIV as an infectious disease. But once it gets into the cell, it’s no longer an infectious disease but becomes a genetic disease because the viral genome is incorporated into the host genome.

In order to cure the disease, we need a genetic strategy. Gene editing gives us the opportunity to eliminate viral DNA from host chromosomes without hurting the host genome.”

In a university news release, Khalili said:

“The big message of this work is that it takes both CRISPR-Cas9 and virus suppression through a method such as LASER ART, administered together, to produce a cure for HIV infection.”

The professor added:

“We now have a clear path to move ahead to trials in nonhuman primates and possibly clinical trials in human patients within the year.”

Other researchers are thrilled by the results but remain eager for further answers. Virologist Jonathan Stoye of the Francis Crick Institute in London wasn’t involved with the study but is curious as to why the treatment only worked on 40 percent of the mice. However, he acknowledged in a statement that the team’s study “is a tremendously exciting paper offering a vision of a potential path to a permanent cure to AIDS in the future.”

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons |

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Cliffhanger: Mountain Biker Saved From “Imminent Death” After Falling Into Canyon

Elias Marat



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A Southern California mountain biker is likely counting his blessings after he was rescued from what authorities describe as “imminent death”” after falling from the side of a cliff in the Angeles National Forest.

The mountain biker, described as an older man, fell into the canyon at Mt. Wilson on Thursday morning and was dangling hundreds of feet above the ground before his fellow bikers, and eventually a special team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, rescued him.

For some time the man dangled by a thin cord around his ankle that was tied to his bicycle while hanging on for dear life “like a cat,” Capt. Tom Giandomenico of the LASD special enforcement bureau told the Los Angeles Times.

“He knew he was in such a precarious situation. He was just scared to even rotate his head to look at us. He just didn’t want to move a muscle,” LASD Deputy Richard Thomsen told CBSLA.

Additionally, when the helicopter team arrived it wasn’t just a matter of simply hoisting the man to safety, as the air generated by the helicopter’s rotor would have sent the man plummeting to “imminent death,” Giandomenico added.

“Because he was head-down on the rock face there, that dropped probably a good 40 feet before it hit some soft dirt and a boulder,” Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Helbring said. “And beyond that was hundreds of feet down to the bottom of the canyon.”

Instead, one of the members of the special enforcement team composed of former SWAT officers devised a plan to rappel down to the man and move him to a ledge below, from which the two could be airlifted to safety.

However, due to a lack of boulders or trees, there was nothing to tie a rope to – and thus no way to rappel down to anything.

So instead, the special enforcement team used the man’s brother and another friend to be their anchor, a plan that ultimately succeeded.

Giandomenico called the rescue “one of the more significant, courageous maneuvers I’ve seen.”

“Heroic, in my opinion,” he added.

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Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever

Elias Marat



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Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.

Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.

In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.

At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.

“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.

“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”

The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.

Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.

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Formerly Homeless Man Enjoys New Life In First 3D-Printed Home In US

Elias Marat



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A formerly homeless man is now enjoying his advanced years in a comfortable, entirely 3D-printed tiny home – the very first of its kind in the entire U.S.

Tim Shea, 70, has struggled for much of his life with substance abuse, addiction, and homelessness.

However, the previously unhoused man is now the first person to live in a 3D-printed tiny home, which is now being touted as a model of engineering and sustainability, reports Green Matters.

The 400-square-foot 3D-printed tiny home was printed by nonprofit New Story and construction technology company ICON in the Austin, Texas, area in March 2018 before Shea moved into the location in September.

In 2019, New Story and ICON have also printed a similar community of tiny homes in Mexico, hoping to make good on the use of the technology as a tool to provide homes to the extremely poor.

According to Shea, his new domicile has made all the difference in the world.

“When I found out I’d be the first person in America to move into a 3D-printed home, I thought it was pretty awesome,” Shea told NY Post. “The very people I used to run away from, I’m running to. If you’ve been on both sides of the fence, you know some people just need a little encouragement and support.”

From start to finish, the process of printing and assembling these homes takes only 48 hours and relies on only 70 to 80 percent of the raw building material that conventional housing requires.

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