The researchers conducted a number of experiments on human cells and found that the gene, known as MX2, can stop the progression of HIV virus. The researchers introduced the virus on two sets of human cells, where in one set the MX2 gene was 'silenced' while in the other set the gene was switched on.
The researchers found that while the HIV virus replicated and spread in the first set, it was unable to do so in the second set. The study has been published in the journal Nature.
"This is an extremely exciting finding which advances our understanding of how HIV virus interacts with the immune system and opens up opportunities to develop new therapies to treat the disease. Until now, we knew very little about the MX2 gene, but now we recognise both its potent anti-viral function and a key point of vulnerability in the lifecycle of HIV", lead researcher Professor Mike Malim said.