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JAMA article on virus inhibitory peptide
May 20, 2007

I happened to see a short article in a May issue of JAMA about a natural peptide found in human blood that blocks HIV, considered to be a possible source of a new class of HIV drugs. Can you explain in layman's terms? What point is the research at?

Response from Dr. Pierone

Hello and thanks for posting.

Here is a link to the article in the Journal Cell which describes this new peptide which has been named virus inhibitory peptide (VIRIP). This peptide was discovered by German researchers who performed experiments in which human blood was filtered in order to separate different types of peptides. This resultant peptide library was then screened for activity against HIV infection in the test tube. It turns out that the peptide which they identified corresponds to a fragment of a naturally circulating blood protein called alpha-1 anti-trypsin. Alpha-1 anti-trypsin is the most abundant circulating serine protease inhibitor.

This peptide was then modified with genetic engineering techniques and this resulted in an increase in antiviral activity of almost 100 fold. So this discovery may translate into future therapies for HIV infection based on ongoing work with this virus inhibitory peptide.

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