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Natural Blood Molecule Blocks HIV

Discovery could lead to a whole new class of AIDS drugs

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

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THURSDAY, April 19, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- German scientists say they've spotted a natural ingredient in human blood that prevents the HIV-1 virus from infecting immune cells.

The finding, reported in the April 20 issue of the journal Cell, could lead to the development of a new class of drugs to fight HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The team found that fragments of a blood molecule they call Virus-Inhibitory Peptide (VIRIP) inhibit HIV-1 and that making a few amino acid changes increased VIRIP's ability to block the virus.

The researchers also found that VIRIP and its derivatives were effective against drug-resistant strains of HIV.

"The findings reveal a new target for inhibiting HIV that remains fully active against viral strains that are resistant to other drugs. That's a big advantage," study author Frank Kirchhoff, of the University of Ulm, said in a prepared statement.

Currently, there are about 20 different HIV drugs categorized into four different classes based on their modes of action, Kirchhoff noted. A number of HIV strains are becoming drug resistant, and HIV resistance to one drug can lead to resistance to other drugs in the same class.

"You want a lot of drug classes, because multi-drug resistant viruses are starting to show up more and more. In at least some industrialized countries, it is already a severe problem," Kirchhoff said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about HIV drugs.

SOURCE: Cell Press, news release, April 19, 2007


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