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Medical News

University of Alberta Team Finds HIV Blocker

February 29, 2008

In laboratory experiments, a gene that is part of the body's natural immunity can block HIV from spreading late in the course of the disease. It is unclear, however, why the gene does not work this way in infected persons, according to researchers from the University of Alberta.

In cell culture, the scientists found the TRIM22 protein-encoding gene that blocks late-stage HIV from leaving cells and infecting healthy cells. While previous investigations have uncovered proteins that could block HIV during its early stages, the virus has been able to evolve and overcome them, said lead author Stephen Barr, who is with the university's medical microbiology and immunology department.

"Although this particular gene can't stop the virus from coming into cells, it can stop it from leaving cells," Barr said. Barr said more research is needed to find out why TRIM22 does not stop HIV in the body. The possibility of a drug or vaccine that might be able to activate it in humans is years away, however.

"This provides hope to HIV patients because it identifies a different part of the life cycle [of HIV] that drugs can be designed for, and perhaps a vaccine as well," said Barr.

The research, "The Interferon Response Inhibits HIV Particle Production by Induction of TRIM22," was published in Public Library of Science Pathogens (2008;4(2):e1000007. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000007)

Back to other news for February 2008

Adapted from:
Edmonton Journal
02.29.2008; Jodie Sinnema

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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