New Method Discovered in Outwitting HIV

Scientists investigating about HIV have found a new tactic in battling the disease, which they hope to work without the fear of drug resistance and toxic side-effects. These researchers have suggested that instead of attacking the virus itself, the treatment should target the cells that HIV infects.

In a study published recently in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," a team led by cell biologist Pamela Schwartzberg of National Genome Research Institute tried turning off ITK, a protein in the T-cells that helps mobilize immune system cells against infection. Once ITK is inactivated, HIV could not be able to stick itself to the cells.

The problem, however, is that battling T-cells instead of HIV may be perceived as counterintuitive. The T-cells are necessary in the body’s defense against unhealthy bacteria and viruses, but is also responsible in helping the HIV replicate itself. Schwartzberg found that modified mice still fought off other viral infections, although it took a longer response time.

How HIV struggles to spread itself in a culture of ITK-deficient cells, and whether this tactic would work well in people, remains to be seen.

 
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