Washington, Feb 29: University of Alberta researchers along with a scientist at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered a gene capable of blocking HIV, thereby preventing the subsequent onset of AIDS.
The team of researchers led by Dr. Stephen Barr, a researcher in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology at the U of A, identified a human gene, known as TRIM22 that can block HIV infection in a cell culture by preventing the accumulation of the virus."Interestingly, when we prevent cells from turning on TRIM22, the normal interferon response (a natural defense produced by our cells to fight infection by viruses such as HIV) is useless at blocking HIV infection. This means TRIM22 is an essential part of our body's ability to fight off HIV," said Barr.
The researchers were amazed by the results as it demonstrated that our bodies carry a gene that is able to stop HIV spread. The next step for the researchers is to find out why this gene does not work in people infected with HIV and also if there is a way to turn this gene on in those individuals.
"We hope that our research will lead to the design of new drugs and/or vaccines that can halt the person-to-person transmission of HIV and the spread of the virus in the body, thereby blocking the onset of AIDS," said Barr.