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DNA Finding Could Boost AIDS Research

Knocking out HIV genes could be a new weapon against the disease

WEDNESDAY, March 15, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. scientists say they've discovered natural defense cells that can be used to fight off HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Researchers at Ohio State University in Columbus say two proteins that normally help repair cellular DNA can also destroy DNA made by HIV after it invades a human cell. The virus cannot survive or reproduce without its genetic code, the researchers point out.

Currently, antiviral treatment involves a combination of drugs that block the ability of HIV to reproduce and spread. This approach does not eliminate HIV from the body, however, and, in time, the virus can develop mutations that make it resistant to the drugs.

This new finding may lead to more effective treatments, the Ohio team said. "Our findings identify a new potential drug target, one that involves a natural host defense. HIV treatments that target cellular components should be far less likely to develop resistance," principal investigator Richard Fishel, a professor of molecular virology, immunology, and molecular genetics, said in a prepared statement.

The study appears in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

The American Medical Association has more about HIV infection.

SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, March 13, 2006
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