Hope for Herpes Cure
Nearly two thirds of us are infected with herpes simplex virus. So viruses, this week isn't an herpes causes cold sores causes genital disease, and it can also even occasionally caused Brian Infections. The virus is real headache to treat because the infection is lifelong. This is because it hides existing just as a piece of DNA inside nerve cells, it periodically reawakens to produce painful infectious skin blisters, nola drugs that can. Control these flare ups when they happen they can't remove the viral DNA. So the problem keeps on coming back now researchers in the US developed a pair of selective molecular scissors the contract down the rogue viral. DNA inside nerve cells and chop it up destroying the virus. So at least in experimental mice, it doesn't come back. Keith Jerem herpes is really sneaky that it actually established as a form of itself. That essentially goes into cells and then falls asleep and that virus lives in the neurons nerve cells in your body, and they can come once a year once a month once a week and cause lesions ulcers than anything else and all those strikes. We him don't do anything about that sleeping form of the virus. So effectively under the immune Radovan all the time it's dormant inside cells like that the immune system can't see it. So it just gets ignored. That's exactly right. The immune system controls at once it wakes up and starts making more copies of itself and they take care of those new copies but they even the noon system doesn't do anything about that long-term sleeping form of the virus said, what can you do about it? Well we've been using this really cool technology that's been around for over a decade. Now called gene editing despite has made a DNA just like our body is and that sleeping form is actually a little tiny circle of this DNA that lives in the nerve cells and what gene editing allows us to do is basically use I think of molecular scissors that can go into a cell and they can look through all. The DNA. In that cell and look for a very specific little stretch of the letters, and if they find those letters, they make a little cut and so what we do is designed very special scissors that ignore all of our own DNA, all the human DNA but they look really hard for herpes and if they find it, then it to little cuts and so it basically falls apart and makes it go away. And this works does it you can actually demonstrate that serve you chop up the virus then canola comeback yeah, exactly. So the study that we did was in mice mice get this sleeping form of the herpes just like we do and then we can go in and we use a a something. We call a vector, a different virus that carries these scissors to those same neurons and when it does that it starts cutting up the virus and then we can measure after. Our therapy how much of that sleeping form is actually left in the mice treated and what we saw as we eliminated well over ninety percent of that virus, and if we could translate that into human beings is likely to prevent lesions in Alzheimer's disease transmission to other people and all the things that we actually worry about how did you get the virus that was the Trojan horse that carried in the molecular scissors? How did you get that into the nerve cells in these animals? Well. That was a really important part of our study is understanding the best way to get the scissors where they need to be. We used another virus added. Associated Virus. Almost, all have it never causes any disease. We basically changed that to carry these scissors for us just injected into the bloodstream, and once it's in the blood, it actually goes in and actually find those nerve cells and introduces the scissors. It sounds like the woman who swallowed a fly and then swallowed spider to eat the flying, and we all know how that story ends because you're basically giving someone a virus to treat viruses this safe. This particular virus specter that was used called ADN. Associated Virus is probably the leading factor that's being used for many many types of gene therapy now, and there's several approved products out there in the EU and the United States that use adn associated virus or av to deliver different types of gene therapy, and so we're taking something that's quite proven to be safe modifying it slightly for our needs and then using it to try to cure an infection where we've simply not had any hope for cure in the past. You've been looking at herpes simplex virus. This causes cold sores and it also causes genital disease. But this is one member of a big family viruses that'll will work in a similar sort of way things like visa, the Vars, chickenpox and shingles in people unlucky enough to have that. Do you think you could prevent a person from succumbing to shingles by the same technique? The shingles virus actually goes into very similar nerve cells and acts a lot like herpes simplex, and so we can actually think about using the same therapy for that viruses. Well, we're also very actively looking at viruses that are similar but not herpes viruses in particular hepatitis B., and we have some really exciting results there where we can do very similar things. We're likely to see success there and maybe another viruses as well.