However, LASER ART can not effectively eliminate HIV from the entire genome alone.
Scientists at Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center used a combination of CRISPR gene-editing technology and a therapeutic treatment called long-acting slow-effective release antiviral therapy (or "LASER ART" for short) to remove HIV DNA from the genomes of animals.
"(The study) marks a critical step toward the development of a possible cure for human HIV infection", according to a UNMC press release.
Khalili said he treated HIV as a genetic disease: Once the virus infects a subject, the viral genome enters into the chromosome and becomes a "bad gene", he said. Gendelman and Edagwa are named inventors on patents that cover the LASER ART technology.
Additionally, to further prove that their method worked, researchers also took samples of the newly-immune cells and transferred them to healthy animals to see if they developed HIV infection from any virus that may have remained. This system targets cellular reservoirs where the HIV virus hides and is capable of suppressing the replication of the virus for extended periods.
LASER ART is a stronger form of ART, that slows down the replication of the viruses.
In this therapy, antiretroviral drugs are placed in nanocrystals that travel to tissues where HIV is likely to be lying dormant.
Once there, the nano-crystals slowly dissolve, releasing doses of the ARV and effectively suppressing and eliminating HIV throughout the first few weeks.
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Researchers experimented on 29 genetically engineered mice with human T-cells infected with HIV.
This permitted long-term viral infection and ART-induced latency. Testing primates will help the research as humans and primates share closer similarities to that of humans and mice.
Earlier this year health secretary Matt Hancock promised by 2030 there would be no new cases of HIV in England.
HIV rebound is directly attributed to the ability of the virus to integrate its DNA sequence into the genomes of cells of the immune system, where it lies dormant and beyond the reach of ART drugs.
"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", Drs.
"We are incredibly proud of the medical breakthroughs made by this team of scientists".
Gendelman said the study was still important because it shows that sterilisation of HIV in living animals is possible. Previous studies in rats and mice have shown that gene editing through CRISPR-Cas9 technology is capable of removing HIV DNA from genomes that hold the virus, successfully cutting large fragments of HIV DNA from infected cells and inhibiting viral gene expression.
Conventionally, ART alone is compelling with putting the HIV at bay; it is sufficient enough to keep it at low levels that they're undetectable in the blood, which drastically lowers the chance of spreading the virus during sexual activity or transfusions.