Dornbusch thinks this strategy will spare patients from serious side effects and “off-target” edits—unintentional cuts elsewhere in the genome that could cause problems such as cancer.
The regions targeted by the company’s Crispr therapy are also in a part of the genome that tends to stay the same even when HIV evolves. That’s important because the virus mutates rapidly, and the researchers don’t want a moving target.
This isn’t the first time scientists have tried to use gene editing in the hope of curing people with HIV, but other efforts have focused on a protective mutation in a gene called CCR5. In the 1990s, scientists found that people with this naturally
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