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The virus that does not infect directly

New findings about the AIDS virus may help in drug development

HIV viruses attack a cell. Illustration: shutterstock
HIV viruses attack a cell. Illustration: shutterstock


The AIDS virus (HIV) has been known to science for many years, but its mechanism of action was for a long time a real mystery. Now a new study reveals that the single virus cannot infect cells with AIDS at all, without the mediation of other cells.


coming from outside


Like any virus, the HIV virus also consists of a protein box that contains genetic material. When it enters the cell, the box opens, and the cell is forced to replicate the intruder's DNA. This is how the cell produces new viruses, which are packaged again as boxes and go out to infect more cells. The researchers from the Gladstone Institute at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that the AIDS viruses do not usually go out to the area outside the cells of the immune system, but are transferred from cell to cell through a special connection between them. They also discovered that only in the cells that received the virus in this unique transfer did the disease develop. When the researchers tried to inject viruses into the cells in the usual way, there was no infection - even if many thousands of viruses were injected into the cell. "We discovered that individual viruses cannot actually cause the AIDS disease," says the head of the research team, Dr. Gilad Deutsch. "Only in a chain reaction, after a cell becomes infected and transmits the virus to other cells, can infection with the disease itself occur. Clinically, this means that if we can stop the passage of viruses from cell to cell, we can prevent the disease. The proteins that allow the connection between the cells may serve as a target for drug development, and in the future they will be able to prevent the disease."


"It is possible to prevent AIDS", Dr. Gilad Deutsch. Photo courtesy of him
"It is possible to prevent AIDS", Dr. Gilad Deutsch. Photo courtesy of him



warm and comfortable

Unlike most research laboratories, Deutsch and his colleagues do not perform the experiments on cell cultures that have been transformed into cancer (human cells, whose cancerous process allows them to multiply in laboratory flasks without restriction, making them a convenient and useful research tool). They use instead human lymph nodes, surgically removed, where the AIDS infection processes actually take place. This of course gives a different validity to the results of the experiments. The new discovery Published in the journal Cell Reports , joins their line of discoveries from recent years regarding the biology of the AIDS disease. Among other things, they discovered how the infected cells recognize the virus, and deciphered the mechanism that causes the infected cells to commit suicide. However, Deutsch and his colleagues are not involved in drug development, but focus on pure biological research. "We want to understand how the transition of the AIDS virus from cell to cell differs from a normal infection of the virus entering the cell, because these phenomena are very different from each other," explains Deutsch. "If we better understand these differences and their nature, we will probably be able to find target molecules, which will allow the development of drugs that will prevent the development of the disease." In the end, the researchers hope that AIDS will turn from a deadly disease into another viral disease that can be lived with.

2 תגובות

  1. It seems that when you create a vaccine against HIV and inject it into the blood, a situation of "lack of infection" may arise, that is, the virus that is supposed to create an immune response will enter the cell but will not create the immune response???
    The solution may be in the introduction of the vaccine into dendritic cells, whether directly in the laboratory or by vaccination through the tissues in the genitals and there it will be absorbed by the dendritic cells????

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