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Scientists Discover New Target to Fight HIV Infection

by Sheela Philomena on October 2, 2013 at 10:57 AM
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 Scientists Discover New Target to Fight HIV Infection

Scientists have identified a mutant of an immune cell protein called ADAP (adhesion and degranulation-promoting adaptor protein) that is able to block HIV infection.

Professor Chris Rudd from the Department of Pathology, who led the research, said: "One exciting aspect about this new target for HIV intervention is that we should be able to fight HIV without compromising the immune system's ability to battle infections."

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HIV infections cause a severe and selective depletion of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that plays a major role in the immune system. Infections result when the HIV virus enters T-cells of the immune system by binding to the surface receptor CD4. Once it enters the cell, it replicates or reproduces itself rapidly, and then spreads to other T-cells by releasing the virus. This spread can occur between an infected T-cell and an uninfected attached T-cell. The researchers found that an ADAP mutant is able to interfere with HIV-1 infection by targeting two events, by reducing the replication of the virus, and the contact between infected and uninfected T-cells.

Professor Rudd added: "The ADAP mutant is potent in its interference of HIV-1 transmission because it targets simultaneously two critical events, viral replication and the spread of the virus from one T-cell to another. One therapeutic possibility is the reconstitution of infected individuals with T-cells expressing the mutant that are relatively resistant to HIV infection and which can react against the virus."
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According the World Health Organisation, there are currently 35.3 million people living with HIV. Although the number of new HIV infections has dropped, it remains a major global public health issue. In the past three decades, it has killed more than 25 million people.

Source: Eurekalert
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