METHOD AIMS TO 'OUTFOX' HIV VIRUS
A way to outfox the HIV Aids virus has been discovered that may avoid the problems of drug resistance which limit current treatments.
Scientists working in the laboratory were able to block HIV infection by inactivating a key human protein.
Most drugs used against HIV target the virus's own proteins. But HIV mutates at such a high rate, modifying its genes, that drug resistant strains emerge quickly.
Strategies designed to outmanoeuvre the virus such as switching medications and prescribing multiple drugs can increase the risk of side effects and make life more difficult for the patient.
The new approach targets a protein produced by human cells rather than HIV, and is therefore impervious to the virus's mutations. Researchers in the US found that inactivating the protein, known as ITK, suppressed HIV's ability to infect key human immune cells.