A Potential Cure for AIDS: Defeating HIV With a Single Injection

The injection causes type B white blood cells to be genetically engineered inside the patient’s body that would generate neutralizing antibodies against the HIV virus.

The technology also has the potential to be developed into a cure for AIDS

Lead author of the study, Dr. Adi Barzel. Credit: Tel Aviv University

A new study from Tel Aviv University proposes a novel AIDS treatment that could be turned into a vaccine or a one-time treatment for HIV patients. The research explored modifying type B white blood cells in the patient’s body to release anti-HIV antibodies in response to the virus. Dr. Adi Barzel and Ph.D. student Alessio Nehmad led the study, which was conducted in partnership with the Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov), the George S. Wise department of life sciences, and the Dotan Center for Advanced Therapies. The study was carried out in cooperation with other researchers from Israel and the United States. The findings were published recently in the renowned journal Nature Biotechnology.

Many AIDS patients’ lives have improved during the past two decades as a result of the administration of medicines that have transformed the condition from fatal to chronic. However, we have a long way to go before finding a medication that can offer patients a permanent cure. Dr. Barzel’s laboratory pioneered one feasible method, a one-time injection. His team devised a technology that employs type B white blood cells that are genetically altered within the patient’s body to release neutralizing antibodies against the HIV virus, which causes the disease.

B cells are white blood cells that produce antibodies against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Bone marrow is where B cells are formed. When they mature, B cells move into the blood and lymphatic system and from there to the different body parts.

Dr. Barzel explains: “Until now, only a few scientists, and we among them, had been able to engineer B cells outside of the body, and in this study, we were the first to do this in the body and to make these cells generate desired antibodies. The genetic engineering is done with viral carriers derived from viruses that were engineered so as not to cause damage but only to bring the gene coding for the antibody into the B cells in the body. Additionally, in this case, we have been able to accurately introduce the antibodies into a desired site in the B cell genome. All model animals who had been administered the treatment responded and had high quantities of the desired antibody in their blood. We produced the antibody from the blood and made sure it was actually effective in neutralizing the HIV virus in the lab dish.”

The genetic editing was done with CRISPR. This is a technology based on a bacterial immune system against viruses. The bacteria use the CRISPR systems as a sort of molecular “search engine” to locate viral sequences and cut them in order to disable them. Two biochemists who had figured out the sophisticated defense mechanism, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, were able to reroute for the cleavage of any DNA of choice. The technology has since been used to either disable unwanted genes or repair and insert desired genes. Doudna and Charpentier earned international recognition when they became chemistry Nobel Prize winners in 2020.

The picture shows staining for engineered cells that secrete the antibody against HIV. Credit: Tel Aviv University

Ph.D. student Alessio Nehmad elaborated on the use of CRISPR: “We incorporate the capability of a CRISPR to direct the introduction of genes into desired sites along with the capabilities of viral carriers to bring desired genes to desired cells. Thus, we are able to engineer the B cells inside the patient’s body. We use two viral carriers of the AAV family, one carrier codes for the desired antibody, and the second carrier codes the CRISPR system. When the CRISPR cuts in the desired site in the genome of the B cells it directs the introduction of the desired gene: the gene coding for the antibody against the HIV virus, which causes AIDS.”

Currently, the researchers explain, there is no genetic treatment for AIDS, so the research opportunities are vast. Dr. Barzel concludes: “We developed an innovative treatment that may defeat the virus with a one-time injection, with the potential of bringing about tremendous improvement in the patients’ condition. When the engineered B cells encounter the virus, the virus stimulates and encourages them to divide, so we are utilizing the very cause of the disease to combat it. Furthermore, if the virus changes, the B cells will also change accordingly in order to combat it, so we have created the first medication ever that can evolve in the body and defeat viruses in the ‘arms race’.”

He continues, “Based on this study we can expect that over the coming years we will be able to produce in this way a medication for AIDS, for additional infectious diseases and for certain types of cancer caused by a virus, such as cervical cancer, head, and neck cancer and more”.

Reference: “In vivo engineered B cells secrete high titers of broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies in mice” by Alessio D. Nahmad, Cicera R. Lazzarotto, Natalie Zelikson, Talia Kustin, Mary Tenuta, Deli Huang, Inbal Reuveni, Daniel Nataf, Yuval Raviv, Miriam Horovitz-Fried, Iris Dotan, Yaron Carmi, Rina Rosin-Arbesfeld, David Nemazee, James E. Voss, Adi Stern, Shengdar Q. Tsai and Adi Barzel, 9 June 2022, Nature Biotechnology. 
DOI: 10.1038/s41587-022-01328-9

BiotechnologyCRISPRHIVPopularTel Aviv UniversityVaccine
Comments ( 34 )
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  • Jack

    Dear Docs
    This is very encouraging. People have been wondering how faster the COVID 19 vaccines were worked in rather HIV. HIV is the one which should have the injections before anything because it has mentally and psychological affects.

    Kindly when will this injection be available in for example Kenya ,Nairobi.

  • Dollarbosslady

    Dear Doc

    At last the world is goingvto be free i lost my family because of this virus there are lot of grave because of this virus…. is not easy to live with this virus for the rest of your life…. i really appreciate a lot from your afford that you take to save ppl….

    • Samuel Gadzama

      Good development but how soon will the technology be available for public consumption?

      • Amog

        Yes! I really wish this technology should be available for humans and this should turn out to be a sterilizing cure. As its extremely difficult for people to live with this virus.

  • Trevor Bezuidenhout

    I would love to be the genie pig on this trial

    • Byron Ojweke

      Dear docs,
      How long will this injection take to be applied to people.

  • WISDOM M. DASEN

    Great work, may God grant you the wisdom and the grace to perfect this research. Thanks to the team

    • Joseph

      This is good news.The entire world has been earnestly waiting for this type of breakthrough and lots more. Please kindly reach out in the same vein when and how people can access the vaccine for use when it is ready.

  • Noman

    Can you please assist me when this medicine reach to the people who suffer with hiv

  • Linda

    Great!! To your team I say, keep up the good work. The entire world and generations to come are grateful for your relentless effort to save the world of HIV. God bless you all and more as you speed up the effort to free many from stigmatisation and give them hope to live new life.

  • Mike

    Keep up the good work and please fasten your effort to save the world and generations to come. Jah bless you all.

  • Margaret

    Good work I wish I can get it swallowing of tablets is agonizing

    • Jamilu mamman

      Wonderful what a success in the making the team has really tried,God bless you Sir/MA’s.Humanity will never forget you guys

  • Via iure

    HIV is a hoax just like COVID 19 because it never was isolated as a ‘virus’it claimed to be

    However, AIDS is real and it’s caused by bad drugs and malnutrition not virus

    The idea of hiv being a virus is the work of big pharma to enrich their pockets and sell drugs and to control people through panucs

  • Chidi

    Great Job. The world can wait especially Africa, we hope the drug or vicine does gets to Africa

  • Prudence

    Dear Doc, thanks for the good work. God grant you more wisdom to heal His people. I hope it will be approved by all and given all infected in all continents and countries.

  • David

    We have suffered enough..I hope for the best and I pray there will be a cure one day.

  • NOSSY

    Thank you guys
    We are praying to God to help you

    • Rabi Abubakar Garba

      We are very happy to hear this good news from you people,we really appreciate your effort in considering the life of people that are at risk. Once again we are very proud of you may Almighty give more wisdom to bring more happiness to life of the people.And really need this injection as soon as possible to cover all all the entire Country.And I will like to be among the people that we perform the text, volunteering. Thank you once again

  • Princess

    Well done doctors, I really appreciate your efforts. Please i will be more grateful if you guys can help with vaccine or Injection that can cure Sickle cell disease. We have suffered so much pain, stigma and criticism from the society and even the people around us. I pray that God wil help you to come up with the cure soon.

  • Raphael.

    Thanks be to God for the wisdom He has bestowed on you to work on a cure for His creation. This is encouraging and our prayer is to have your dream realised to save millions of God’s children who have suffered due to the pandemic

  • Deliwe

    Woow!! These are the best news ever. We have lost many of our friends and families due to this virus. We pray that nothing hinders your progress and may it be sooner.

  • Kriss

    Great excitement for this development. More grace upon the team.

  • Emmanuel Jack

    Great news, this is huge achievement in the history of the world, liberation from the thrown of grace to his people in the world. Thanks you guys are doing a great job

  • kennedy Moturi

    Congratulations to the team, may our Lord God add you more wisdom and knowledge to finalise and start supplying to the world for use

  • Leonard Nicholas E.

    Am interested in the injection how can be administered to me I am from Nigeria.

  • Elizabeth Nafula

    Thank you God for the wisdom and knowledge to the entire team for this noble cause to bring new hope to humanity. Congratulations the all team for your tireless efforts to save the world. Am ready to be cured!

  • Byron Ojweke

    Dear docs,
    How long will this injection take to be applied to people.

  • Davd

    IN MOST CASES,SUCH ISSUES NORMALLY DIE A NATURAL DEATH . HOPE THIS TIME IT WILL CAME TO PASS. ALL THE BEST AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU

  • Gloria Anthony

    Good work I pray will come to pass, I need it am HIV patients

  • Sarah

    Great job to the team for saving the whole world, you deserve the best… I salute you!

  • BrianJoseph

    Please delete this idiot’s fake news…


    Via iure 3 weeks
    HIV is a hoax just like COVID 19 because it never was isolated as a ‘virus’it claimed to be

    However, AIDS is real and it’s caused by bad drugs and malnutrition not virus

    The idea of hiv being a virus is the work of big pharma to enrich their pockets and sell drugs and to control people through panucs”

  • Emmanuel

    please when is it going to be ready also in Ghana west Africa

  • Emmanuel

    I cant wait for these vaccine