New found proteins to open avenues for potential HIV/AIDS drugs

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{image-world aids day_11012008.jpg}Washington, Jan 11: In their quest for a drug to combat HIV/AIDS, researchers have zeroed in on 273 proteins that the AIDS virus needs to survive in human body.

Identification of host protein required for HIV infection would open up new vistas for drugs to prevent and manage the pandemic. AIDS virus develop resistance to available anti-retroviral drugs by mutating against the enzymes which attack it. The mutations force AIDS patients to switch drug regimens-- not always successfully. The virus can make only 15 proteins and thus have to use human proteins for its survival.

Of the 273 human proteins identified, only 36 had been previously found by other methods. The advantage of targeting human proteins is that the virus would presumably not be able to mutate to avoid drugs that block them, New York Times quoted lead researcher Dr Stephen J Elledge as saying.

But, blocking human proteins can prove fatal to humans.

Dr Robert C. Gallo, Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland, said cancer therapy works in a similar way-- doctors try to block proteins that feed fast-growing tumor cells without killing too many other fast-growing cells, like those in the bone marrow.


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