The University of Minnesota said its scientists have discovered a possible way to stop the spread of the virus that causes AIDS by preventing the pathogen from attaching itself to an antiviral protein.
APOBEC3F belongs to a family of proteins that defend the body against viruses. The HIV virus, however, has developed an ability to attach itself to the protein and destroy it.
In a study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, researchers in the College of Biological Sciences say they can alter the chemical makeup of APOBEC3F so the protein can fend off the HIV virus.
Even more encouraging, the study suggests the method can protect other antiviral proteins from HIV beyond APOBEC3F.
“This suggests that the interaction between [HIV] and these antiviral APOBEC proteins could be blocked with a drug that would shield the [HIV] interaction region,” John Albin, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Such an intervention has the potential to allow as many as seven natural antiviral drugs to spring into action and prevent HIV from spreading.”
Albin is a researcher in the laboratory of Reuben Harris, an associate professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics whose work is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.