Now, a one-two punch approach to KO HIV

May 29th, 2009 - 5:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 29 (ANI): Making a major pharmaceutical breakthrough, scientists at St George’s, University of London have devised a one-two punch way to stop HIV.

In the study, the researchers have described a new protein that can kill the virus when used as a microbicide.

The researchers have also shown how the protein could be manufactured in quantities large enough to make it affordable for people in developing countries.

“We desperately need to control the spread of HIV, particularly in developing countries. A vaccine is still some way off, but microbicides could provide a more immediate solution, provided we can overcome major hurdles of high efficacy, low cost, and wide availability-all of which we address in this study,” said Julian Ma the senior researcher involved in the work.

The researchers have described how they combined two protein microbicides (b12 monoclonal antibody and cyanovirin-N) into a single “fusion” molecule and showed that this molecule is more active against HIV than either of its individual components.

They designed synthetic DNA for producing this molecule and introduced this DNA into plant cells.

Then they regenerated transgenic plants that produce the fusion molecule, and prepared the microbicide from a plant extract made by grinding the leaves.

“This study is nothing short of a breakthrough-not only does it yield a new drug to fight the spread of HIV, but it also shows us how we can produce it on the scale necessary to get it into the hands of those who need it most,” said Dr. Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal.

He added: “Unlike their unregulated counterparts in the dietary supplement industry, these scientists are using the engines of nature to manufacture pharmaceuticals that must undergo extensive safety and efficacy testing long before the first gel or cream is administered.”

The study is published online in The FASEB Journal. (ANI)

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