A system that renders certain types of immune cells impervious to HIV infection, possibly paving the way to its eradication from the body was cracked by US researchers.
The system's two vital components are high levels of a molecule that becomes embedded in viral DNA like a code written in invisible ink and an enzyme that, when it reads the code, switches from repairing the DNA to chopping it up into unusable pieces.
Johns Hopkins researchers say the discovery opens a new approach to eradicating HIV from the body, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.
"For decades, we have seen conflicting reports on whether each of these components helped protect cells from viruses," says James Stivers, professor of pharmacology and molecular sciences at the Johns Hopkins Medicine's Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, who led the study.
"By plotting how much of each are found in different types of cells, as well as the cells' response to HIV, we learned that both are needed to get the protective effect," adds Stivers, according to a John Hopkins' statement.