Delaware researchers lead effort to eliminate HIV escape method

Eliminating HIV escape method
Eliminating HIV escape method | Courtesy of

Scientists from six different universities have collaborated to eliminate the escape method that HIV infections use to evade treatments.

The researchers, under the leadership of a team from the University of Delaware, seek to interrupt a specific protein that lives inside the human cell. This protein determines whether HIV infects surrounding cells, and it is crucial to use this protein to eliminate the virus's escape mechanisms.

Approximately 37 million people around the world have HIV infections. After HIV destroys immune cells so that the host is susceptible to the virus, AIDS settles into the body. Over 1 million people died from AIDS last year.

"In a nutshell, we found that the infectivity of HIV is regulated by the motions of these proteins," study leader Tatyana Polenova, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Delaware, said. "It's a subtle regulation strategy that does not involve major structural changes in the virus."

This research is novel in a number of ways.

"It is the first time that quantitative agreement between experiment and computation was achieved in a dynamics study, and it's particularly exciting that this was attained for such a complex system," Polenova said. "We hope this work may guide the development of new therapeutic interventions, such as small molecules that would serve as interactors with the HIV capsid and inhibit these dynamics.”

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University of Delaware

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