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General Health Channel
Reported September 5, 2008

HIV Discovery may Lead to new Treatments

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New insight into the process of HIV infection may lead to new treatments for the disease.

Scientists recently discovered that by attaching to the surface of a resting T cell -- a cell normally highly resistant to the HIV virus -- the HIV virus releases a protein that breaks down the cell’s internal skeleton. By doing this, the HIV virus gains access into the protective cell.

Findings also suggest the process may do more than just enable entry of HIV into the T cells -- it may actually transport the virus. The internal skeleton of T cells is made of a protein called actin, the material broken down when an HIV virus attaches to the cell.

“When actin is cut, it grows back,” Yuntao Wu, assistant professor of molecular biology and microbiology at George Mason University and lead author of the study, was quoted as saying. “That process may carry the virus from the cortical actin to inside the nucleus.”

Earlier studies have shown HIV relies on a receptor on the surface of resting T cells called CXCR4 to infect those cells. The new discovery verifies those findings and reveals details that could pave the way for new therapies against HIV infection.

SOURCE: Cell, 2008;134:782-792

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