Newly Discovered Key Components of HIV Can Lead to More Effective Drugs

Researchers from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge and University College London, United Kingdom, discovered key components of HIV which can lead to new approaches for drugs for this infection.key components

A protein shell called capsid surrounds the virus. Now the scientists uncovered that the capsid contains iris-like pores that can open and close like an eye.

These pores open and close very quickly and that enables them to “suck in” the genetic building blocks called nucleotides that the virus needs to build the DNA to infect the cell, keeping out any unwanted molecules. This discovery helps to explain why HIV can successfully evade the immune system of the body.

Dr. Leo James from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology says: “We used to think that the capsid came apart as soon as the virus entered a cell but now realize that the capsid protects the virus from the 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.”

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