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Medical News

Brigham Young University Researchers Take Look at How HIV Adapts in Three Separate Studies

May 3, 2011

BYU researchers are examining HIV in twins, a failed HIV vaccine, and an anti-HIV protein in three separate studies to understand the virus.

Some years ago, a pair of identical twin boys acquired HIV through a tainted transfusion. Both boys became HIV-positive, but their clinical trajectories have differed significantly. One has a nearly normal immune system and fairly good health, while his brother lags five years developmentally and has had numerous health complications. The National Cancer Institute joined Keith Crandall, chair of BYU's biology department, and colleagues to study how HIV has changed in each twin. The study is published in BMC Evolutionary Biology (2011;11:62 doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-62).


A second study is based on a failed HIV vaccine trial in Thailand, during which participants underwent regular blood draws. Scientists have blood samples from participants both at baseline and after some acquired HIV. Due to the close-knit nature of participants' risk groups, some study subjects may have shared needles with each other, acquiring an identical HIV strain. Crandall's team examined how HIV evolves in the different hosts. The study is published on PLoS One (2011;6(3):e16902 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016902).

A third BYU study examined the mechanism behind a protein called alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT), which earlier research suggested can inhibit HIV. AAT is already used in a drug against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. BYU's chemistry and biochemistry chair, Greg Burton, and colleagues found that "at the right levels, AAT alters the activation of a separate protein that HIV needs to transcribe its genetic code in the replication process," and without which HIV cannot replicate. The study is published in the Journal of Immunology (2011;186(5):3148-3155).

Back to other news for May 2011

Adapted from:
Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)
04.29.2011; Lois M. Collins

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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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