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Medical News

Minnesota: University Shares $10 Million in Pursuit of New Weapon Against HIV

April 26, 2011

University of Minnesota researchers will receive half of a $10 million National Institutes of Health grant to study innate antiviral proteins that, if boosted, may prevent HIV from replicating in human cells.

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"Everyone has [these proteins], and several have the capacity to destroy HIV," explained Rueben Harris, an associate professor of biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics. "The problem is that HIV and other viruses that are susceptible to [these proteins] have figured out ways to neutralize our innate immune responses."

In 2008, Harris and colleagues discovered the APOBEC3G protein, one of several "APOBECs" that human cells produce naturally. That research showed how HIV binds to and destroys one of the proteins, suggesting that a relatively simple change to the chemical structure of APOBECs could boost their virus-fighting capabilities.

The researchers will use the grant to produce atomic resolution images of the proteins to better understand how they interact with HIV and other proteins in human cells. The goal is to find a way to prevent HIV from attaching to and entering cells, said Harris.

"People are just starting to come around to the fact that we have really powerful innate immune defenses that can kill the virus," said Harris. "Now we need to understand how we can boost those defenses."

Back to other news for April 2011

Adapted from:
St. Paul Pioneer Press
04.18.2011; Christopher Snowbeck


  
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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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