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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.

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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 | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Good News

Keanu Reeves Praised As Video of Him Offering Seat to Lady in Subway Resurfaces

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Keanu Reeves is an actor who has long been loved by audiences —and not necessarily due to his acting skills, but due to how nice the John Wick star is.

And now, Reeves is once again earning praise as a “true gentleman” after resurfaced video footage shows Reeves giving up his seat on the subway.

The clip was shared by Instagram film fan account Cinemonkeys where it has since earned nearly 45,000 likes.

The video footage dates back to 2011, when it was shared on YouTube by a user of the video-sharing platform.

At the time, Reeves was already a superstar riding on the fame he earned from the Matrix, Speed, and a number of other blockbuster hits.

When Reeves notices a woman carrying a heavy bag, he quickly points to his seat and asks if she would like to sit. The woman accepts and Reeves gets up without hesitating to let her take his seat.

Reeves, ever the model citizen, then stands and holds onto a subway pole while carrying his bag.

The video has since been watched over 27 million times and was even cited in a 2019 Time magazine profile of the actor describing Reeves as the “soul mate” of the internet.

The resurfacing of the clip on Instagram once again impressed users of the platform.

“This human being’s soul honestly shines so bright,” wrote one user.

“OMG I love him in every single way,” another person commented.

His kindness knows no bounds,” commented someone else.

Keanu is set to reprise his role as Neo in the upcoming fourth Matrix film directed and written by Lana Wachowski, who co-directed the earlier trilogy with her sister Lilly. He will also return to the silver screen in John Wick: Chapter 4, which will be released in 2022.

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Animals

Drunk Man Rescues Injured Baby Bird By Sending It To Animal Shelter… In An Uber

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An injured baby bird received a new lease on life after a young man who was inebriated had the good sense to send the little creature to an animal shelter because he and his friends were too drunk to drive.

In the Summer of 2019, a small lesser goldfinch suddenly appeared by itself at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah. The center’s chairman, Buz Marthaler, was notified by a volunteer who sent him a photo.

“It was a picture of this bird, and it had come by Uber,” Marthaler told FOX13. “It was just crazy.”

As it turns out, the tiny bird – which was only two weeks old – indeed rolled up to the site by its lonesome, the sole passenger in an Uber vehicle called by concerned citizens who found the injured creature.

Among those good Samaritans was Tim Crowley, who had been “day drinking” on that Saturday before he and his buddies witnessed the little bird fall from the sky.

“Impromptu, sitting in some camp chairs, hanging out, having a few drinks when we had a visitor fall out of the sky,” he explained.

Crowley then snapped a photo of the bird and sent it to the WRCNU, which instructed him to immediately bring the bird in. However, the group obviously couldn’t drive since they had been guzzling booze all day.

So Crowley decided he’d hail a cab for the creature.

“At first it was a joke, like, ‘Hey, maybe we should just call Uber!’” he said. “Then we were like, ‘No, really. Why not? We’re paying them.’”

As it turns out, the bird – since named “Petey Uber” by staff at the rescue center – likely would have perished if not for Crowley’s quick thinking.

Marthaler remains impressed by Crowley’s move and shared the news on its Facebook page.

“While we feel we’ve seen it all and can’t be amazed by anything, there is always someone out there to prove us wrong,” the shelter’s post read. “Thank you to the rescuer who helped this little one get the care it needed in a timely manner and thank you for keeping yourself safe and others on the road safe as well.”

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Animals

Binx the Cat, Who Survived Florida Condo Collapse, Found and Reunited With Family

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Amid the tragedy of last month’s collapse of a South Florida condo building, there was a tiny bit of good news when a cat named Binx, who lived on the ninth floor of the Surfside building, was found safe and returned to his family.

“I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a hurting family today and provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in a Friday press conference, reports NPR.

Levine Cava explained that a volunteer who feeds street cats in the area recognized the cat near the building before bringing him to an animal shelter, where it was then identified.

Gina Nicole Vlasek, the co-founder of the The Kitty Campus rescue group, posted on Facebook that a black cat had been found near the rubble of the group before it was brought to the shelter on Thursday night.

“We are so grateful to be able to help in any small way,” Vlasek said.

“All we needed was a ray of hope in this tragedy,” she continued. “Today was one of the most amazing days.. one of the survivors came to see the cat and to determine if it was her families cat and IT WAS!”

The mayor said that animal control workers are continuing to work to recover any pets that may have survived the horrible collapse.

The 12-story Surfside condo collapsed on June 24. At least 79 people have been confirmed dead, with 61 additional residents remaining unaccounted for.

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