FDA Approves Human Trials for Potential HIV Cure Using CRISPR
Good news! Excision BioTherapeutics has received FDA approval to be the first Phase I/II human trials for a CRISPR led HIV treatment. The drug being tested by Excision is labeled EBT-101 and if successful could be an effective cure for chronic HIV patients. CRISPR - an acronym for "clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats" - is a mechanism used primarily by bacteria as a defense against viruses. Scientists have utilized the mechanism to "snip" sections of DNA out of a sequence and replace it with a more preferable sequence. The technology for these "genetic scissors" won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2020.
EBT-101 hitches a ride on an adeno-associated virus to deliver the drug directly to the patients DNA sequence. Once delivered the CRISPR snips out the DNA sequence associated with the HIV infection, rendering it dead. CRISPR technology has long been seen as a breakthrough in the scientific community but needed more refinement before practical for widespread human use. If this trial is successful it could usher in a wave of CRISPR led cures and treatments.