Thanks to the cocktail of drugs that make up antiretroviral therapy, HIV is no longer a death sentence. But there are downsides to antiretroviral therapy—taking the treatment for many years is expensive, increases drug resistance, and could cause adverse reactions in a patient. And, because the virus stays in reservoirs in the body, the disease can continue to progress in patients if they stop taking their medication.
Now a team of German researchers has found an enzyme that can “cut” the viral DNA out of a cell’s genetic code, which could eradicate the virus from a patient’s body altogether. The proof-of-concept study, published this week in Nature Biotechnology and reported by Ars Technica, was done in mice, but the researchers believe that their conclusions show that this DNA-snipping enzyme could be used in clinical practice. And if it can cut HIV’s genetic code out of a patient’s body, the technique could be a cure for the disease.