Loyola researchers discover proteins that inhibit HIV.
MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Using a $225,000 microscope, researchers have identified the key components of a protein called TRIM5a that destroys HIV in rhesus monkeys.
The finding could lead to new TRIM5a-based treatments that would knock out HIV in humans, said senior researcher Edward M. Campbell, PhD, of Loyola University Health System.
Campbell and colleagues report their findings in an article featured on the cover of the Sept. 15, 2010 issue of the journal Virology, now available online.
In 2004, other researchers reported that TRIM5a protects rhesus monkeys from HIV. The TRIM5a protein first latches on to a HIV virus, then other TRIM5a proteins gang up and destroy the virus.
Humans also have TRIM5a, but while the human version of TRIM5a protects against some viruses, it does not protect against HIV.
Researchers hope to turn TRIM5a into an effective therapeutic agent. But first they need to identify the components in TRIM5a that enable the protein to destroy viruses. “Scientists have been trying to develop antiviral therapies for only about 75 years," Campbell said. "Evolution has been playing this game for millions of years, and it has identified a point of intervention that we still know very little about."