This 2011 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control shows HIV virions. On Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, scientists are reporting the first use of the gene-editing tool CRISPR to try to cure a patient's HIV infection by providing blood cells that have been altered to resist the AIDS virus. (Maureen Metcalfe, Tom Hodge/CDC via AP)

A gene-editing first: scientists tried CRISPR to fight HIV

September 11, 2019 - 5:00 pm

Scientists are reporting the first use of a gene-editing tool called CRISPR to try to cure a man's HIV infection. They gave him blood cells that were genetically modified to resist the AIDS virus.

The gene-editing tool has long been used in research labs, and a Chinese scientist was scorned last year when he revealed he used it on embryos that led to the birth of twin girls. Editing embryos is considered too risky, partly because DNA changes can pass to future generations.

The new work is by different Chinese researchers and is considered ethical. It involved a man with cancer and HIV. The treatment seemed safe and put his cancer into remission but did not cure HIV.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the results Wednesday.

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