German scientists find vulnerability in AIDS virus

26th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

26 July 2005, HEIDELBERG, GERMANY - Scientists in Germany said Tuesday they had discovered a new vulnerability in the AIDS virus which one day might allow them to devise a medicine to beat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

26 July 2005

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY - Scientists in Germany said Tuesday they had discovered a new vulnerability in the AIDS virus which one day might allow them to devise a medicine to beat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Heidelberg University Hospital said a fragment of protein had been successfully used in the laboratory to halt assembly of the virus shell. Unless that membrane is complete, the virus cannot reproduce.

The substance, known as a peptide, functioned in a test-tube but cannot be used directly as a drug, because infected cells do not accept it.

The hospital offered no timescale on how long it might take to discover other, more viable substances with a similar function.

A team led by Hans-Georg Kraeusslich, a virology professor at the hospital, published the research the same day in the science journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

An estimated 40 million people around the world are infected with HIV. Last year the number of infections increased by an estimated 5 million and 3 million AIDS sufferers died. HIV infection cannot be cured and the virus has been mutating to resist existing drugs.

When the virus spreads from an infected cell, it remains incomplete. Dubbed a 'capsid assembly inhibitor' (CAI), the new substance docks onto part of the membrane of the immature virus and prevents it developing a mature shell known as the capsid.

Others in the team that published the research came from Frankfurt's Institute for Biomedical Research, the University of Southampton in Britain and the Institut Pasteur in Paris.

DPA

Subject: German news

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