New research shows a molecule that stops the growth of the AIDS virus in the blood may also inhibit the growth of other viruses.
Researchers say alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) -- a protein in the blood -- deactivates cells, stopping viruses from multiplying. In order for cells to grow, they must be in an active state. They say the concept is "...kind of like cutting a computer virus off from the hard drive."
Previous research has shown AAT is able to block the AIDS virus in whole human blood. However, AAT is not found naturally in lymph nodes -- a place where viruses grow and multiply. Now, researchers say there is strong evidence to suggest AAT's properties may also inhibit the growth of other viruses.
This concept is provocative but at the same time intuitive, and if it holds true in infected patients, this discovery has enormous potential to explain how viruses replicate and may result in the production of a new class of blockbuster drugs.
This study is supported by several recent publications, which have confirmed his concept in the laboratory and in patients with HIV infection. Researchers are hopeful that AAT, or an AAT-like substance, may one day be turned into a drug.However, insufficient funding and a lack of lab resources have been an issue for researchers.
Scientists say science has a history of slow acceptance of new ideas, especially concepts that are "outside of the box."
Researchers conclude saying the results of this research could have huge implications for patients diagnosed with AIDS and, now, other viruses, as well.