HIV To Treat HIV: HIV ‘Cut and Paste’

Researchers recently applied the idea of ‘cut and paste’ to something completely different than word processing on their computers: the treatment of HIV. Of course, most of us use ‘cut-and-paste’ on a regular basis, whether for emails, documents, or filling in information. Certainly, it is a function that comes in handy. However, this cutting-edge technique could mean really big changes on the HIV battlefield. What we are talking about is using HIV to treat HIV. Obviously, this is an exciting idea. But, how does this process work? Moreover, how will this be beneficial in HIV treatment?

Within our cells are proteins, which are used to perform a variety of tasks. One of these proteins acts like a pair of scissors. It cuts away at the genome, grabbing and separating bits of information. The cell can then use the information as needed. For scientists, these natural ‘scissors’ can be used to help patch up damaged cells. The damaged cells, specifically those infected with HIV, have genetic bits of information missing. In order to patch up these holes, the ‘scissors’ could cut out patches from the virus and then use this to patch up the damaged cells. In effect, parts of the HIV would be cut away to repair the damage done by the disease. This may sound far-fetched, but recent testing gives reason for optimism.

HIV has been studied for nearly three decades and it may seem ironic to use HIV to treat HIV. However, it is a promising point of attack in the fight against HIV and AIDS, especially as this therapy looks particularly sound in the area of strengthening the immune system. Assisting the body to not only resist attack—but also to fend it off in such a manner—would be a big step in the fight against HIV. Should the cut and paste method prove successful, there may be other infections that could also be treated or prevented using similar methods.