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HIV breakthrough - MRC

Thursday August 11th, 2016

British researchers have announced a major discovery about HIV - opening the way for new treatments.

The discovery reveals how the virus acquires genetic material, "sucking" it in at high speed from its host.

Scientists at University College London and the Medical Research Council laboratory of molecular biology in Cambridge reported their findings in Nature.

This shows there are pores in the capsid - the protein shell - of the virus and that these operate like eyes, blinking open and shut at great speed to pull in nucleotides.

The researchers also unveiled a new chemical, hexacarboxybenzene, that can stop this process.

The chemical cannot easily be converted into a drug as it cannot cross the cell membrane of human cells.

The researchers say the mechanism may be found in other viruses - making the vulnerable to any effective treatment.

Researcher Dr Leo James said: "We used to think that the capsid came apart as soon as the virus entered a cell but now realise that the capsid protects the virus from our innate immune system.

"The channels we've discovered explain how the fuel for replication gets into the capsid to allow the viral genome to be made."

Fellow researcher Dr David Jacques said: "We have already designed a prototype inhibitor that directly targets the channel. We predict that this feature may be common to other viruses and will be an attractive target for new antiviral drugs, including new treatments for HIV and related viruses."

Jaques et al. HIV-1 uses dynamic capsid pores to import nucleotides and fuel encapsidated DNA synthesis. Nature 10 August 2016 [abstract]

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Genetics | UK News

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Comments

1At 23/10/2017 08:47am Cristina Pereira wrote

https://epidemicj17.imascientist.org.uk/2017/06/21/what-is-the-best-breakthrough-in-any-virus-you-have-found-not-just-hiv-maybe-even-cancer/

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