WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Researchers discover protein that can battle HIV infections

The discovery could help scientists discover and develop gene therapy for HIV infections. | File photo
Scientists from Canada's Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, the University of Colorado, and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City recently discovered a specific protein within humans and primates that could help the body battle HIV.

The discovery could help scientists discover and develop gene therapy for HIV infections.

The study, available in the Heliyon journal, shows that the protein’s structure can counteract HIV. The protein, named TRIM5alpha, can interrupt HIV and similar viruses. This interruption stops the viruses from replicating, spreading, and settling in the body. The protein is also able to warn the immune system of a coming invasion, accomplishing two tasks at once.

"HIV-1 inhibition by restriction factors is fascinating as a natural antiviral system," Dr. Lionel Berthoux, corresponding author of the study from Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, said. "Our new findings contribute to mapping how our immune systems are activated against retroviruses like HIV."

The researchers anticipate further research in the future will continue to make progress in discovering and creating potential HIV vaccines as well as therapies.

"Our cells can mount a surprisingly complex response to viral infections," Berthoux said. "Finding a way to tweak the activity of these antiviral factors so that they target HIV, or other viruses of interest, is a valuable avenue of research."

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