Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource
Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
   
Ask the Experts About

Safe Sex and HIV PreventionSafe Sex and HIV Prevention
           
Rollover images to visit our other forums!
Recent AnswersAsk a Question
  
  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary


Gene may hold key to neutralizing HIV: U.S. study
Sep 5, 2008

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The AIDS virus is especially hard to fight because few people develop antibodies to neutralize it, but U.S. researchers said on Thursday they have found an immunity gene that may offer a new way to fight back.

They said the gene Apobec3 helps mice develop antibodies against an HIV-like virus, and they think the same gene in humans could lead to a potent vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV.

"This gene is central to HIV biology," Dr. Warner Greene of the Gladstone Institutes at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a telephone interview.

So far, efforts to make a vaccine against HIV have failed.

In humans, HIV devotes one of its 9 genes to disabling Apobec3 proteins, which may help explain why people with HIV rarely make antibodies against the virus, he said.

HIV is a retrovirus, which means it copies bits of its own genetic code into the DNA of the host.

"If we could prevent HIV from destroying this key pivotal host factor, we might allow HIV-infected patients to develop neutralizing antibodies like they do in mice," he said.

"It's a translation from mice to men. That's the challenge now," said Greene, whose study appears in the journal Science.

Green's lab and others have been hunting for the gene in mice that allows them to fight off the Friend virus, a retrovirus similar to HIV.

Working with a team at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the researchers conducted a series of experiments in which they genetically engineered mice to lack the Apobec3 gene. "Sure enough, when we knocked out the Apobec3 gene, they lost their ability to recover from Friend virus infection," Greene said.

He said the discovery of Apobec3's role in retroviral immunity is exciting because genes in this region are active in people who resist HIV infection, suggesting they are making effective antibodies against the virus.

"Blocking this degradation of Apobec3 is probably the most promising new drug target in HIV biology," Greene said.

Antibodies are key to warding off viral infections, and most vaccines against viral diseases stimulate the body to make antibodies against the target virus.

Greene said efforts at developing an HIV vaccine have largely focused on building up a kind of immune cell called a T-cell to attack the virus.

"Those types of approaches are not proving adequate. We are desperately seeking better approaches to creating neutralizing antibodies," he said, adding, "Maybe this will help us."

The AIDS virus infects an estimated 33 million people globally and has killed about 25 million since the pandemic started in the 1980s.

There is no cure but drugs can suppress the virus and allow patients to lead a near-normal life. Without treatment, the virus destroys the immune system, leaving patients susceptible to infections and cancer.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Thanks for the information. The Apobec 3 story is one we've been monitoring. Please note this is very early research, so don't look for it on your pharmacy shelves anytime soon. By the way, did you have a question?

Dr. Bob



Previous
No sleep from 2 days! (NON-OCCUPATIONAL POST EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS)
Next
Inspirational Movie

  
  • Email Email
  • Glossary Glossary

 Get Email Notifications When This Forum Updates or Subscribe With RSS


 
Advertisement



Q&A TERMS OF USE

This forum is designed for educational purposes only, and experts are not rendering medical, mental health, legal or other professional advice or services. If you have or suspect you may have a medical, mental health, legal or other problem that requires advice, consult your own caregiver, attorney or other qualified professional.

Experts appearing on this page are independent and are solely responsible for editing and fact-checking their material. Neither TheBody.com nor any advertiser is the publisher or speaker of posted visitors' questions or the experts' material.

Review our complete terms of use and copyright notice.

Powered by ExpertViewpoint

Advertisement