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article imageScientists block replication of AIDS virus

By Tim Sandle     Nov 30, 2013 in Science
Valencia - A research team has managed to design small synthetic molecules capable of joining to the genetic material of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and block its replication.
With the newly-designed synthetic molecules, scientists have been able to inhibit the output of genetic material of the virus from the infected cell nucleus to the cytoplasm. This means that the virus replication is blocked and this avoids the infection of other cells.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. HIV is different in structure from other retroviruses. It is roughly spherical with a diameter of about 120 nm, around 60 times smaller than a red blood cell, yet large for a virus.
The genetic material of the virus (HIV-1) is formed by ribonucleic acid (RNA), and it encodes several proteins that allow it to penetrate the human cells and reproduce within them. The new synthetic molecules, called terphenyls, reproduce the interactions of one of the proteins encoded by the virus (a protein called Rev).
The synthetic molecules join Rev’s receptor in the viral RNA, preventing the interaction necessary for the virus to reproduce.
The initial research was carried out using computer modeling, before laboratory studies were attempted. This allowed the research team to fine tune the model prior to studying the actual virus.
The research was led by scientists at the University of Valencia. The finding have been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, in a paper titled "Structure-Based Design of an RNA-Binding p-Terphenylene Scaffold that Inhibits HIV-1 Rev Protein Function."
More about Aids, HIV, Virus, replication
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