HIV Mapped Protein Structure May Lead to New AIDS Drugs


HIV treatments

Scientists have successfully mapped the HIV’s protein structure which encases its genetic information that could lead to new drugs to fight against AIDS.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine research team used a supercomputer called “Blue Waters” from the University of Illinois to reveal the HIV’s capsid “seams,” a protein casing the virus that is holding the DNA. The capsid has to be sturdy to insulate the virus yet pliable to allow the virus to reprogram its host once a virus infects a cell.

Therapies have long been developed to attack HIV’s capsid but scientists find it too difficult to crack, and this has never been described before the University of Pittsburgh study.  While HIV’s capsid separate once it penetrates the cell, it is stable enough to the virus’ essential components.

Researchers can either make the capsid hyperstable and incapable of separating or destroy the virus before it damages the cells.  The three-helix bundle that the team has discovered could be a good receptacle for the drug.

HIV mutates rather quickly, which makes it difficult to develop long-lasting therapies, but they believe that by targeting the capsid instead of the virus’ DNA, the virus is unlikely to develop resistance.

Bee venom could kill HIV

Another breakthrough could lead to drugs immune to resistance of HIV, according to a study published in the Antiviral Therapy journal on Thursday. Bees hold the key to preventing the initial transmission of the virus that people can use to protect them.

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis’s scientists found that the toxin found in bee venom called melittin destroys the virus.  Research has it that while the nanoparticles attached to the melittin were not large enough to damage the body cell, the toxin rip holes in the outer layer and destroying it. The particles could theoretically eliminate the virus when injected into an HIV-positive person.  Therefore, by integrating the virus lipid envelop; it is less likely to develop resistance to melittin nanoparticles.

Smoking deadlier for HIV patients

A new study revealed that HIV patients who smoke are more likely to die from it than HIV. Danish researchers show the importance of including anti-smoking counseling in HIV care after they found that 60% of the 3,000 HIV patients treated in Denmark from 1995-2010 died from smoking-related diseases.

HIV patient’s life expectancy differs from smokers and non-smokers. For instance, a 35-year old patient who smokes has 63-year life expectancy compared to more than 78 years for non-smokers.

Early treatment may delay the progression of HIV

HIV attacks the immune system to such a degree that one may acquire a collection of illnesses that will eventually progress to AIDS. Starting with Antiretroviral therapy six months after being infected will delay the progression of HIV.

As clinicians learn more and more about the effects of HIV, treatment and recommendations have changed over the years. The successful mapping of HIV protein structure that could lead to new AIDS Drugs could be a welcome medical breakthrough for many patients suffering from the infection.

Written by: Janet Grace Ortigas

3 Responses to "HIV Mapped Protein Structure May Lead to New AIDS Drugs"

  1. Nathan Haigh   May 30, 2013 at 8:02 am

    They found DNA inside HIV? Breakout the Nobel prizes; I thought retroviruses has RNA genomes.

  2. Mr1984   May 30, 2013 at 7:44 am

    What happened to the DRACO broad spectrum anti-viral? Not a word since it’s discovery. It was supposed to be effective even against HIV. Do big pharma kill it?

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