Sunday, January 20, 2008

Identification of novel therapeutic targets for HIV

Using functional genomic screen, researchers at Harvard Medical School have identified 273 proteins that the AIDS virus needs to survive in human cells, opening up new potential targets for drugs. Their work, published online on 10th Jan. by Science, used RNA interference to screen thousands of protein-making genes; previously, scientists had identified only 36 human proteins that the virus uses to break into cells, hijack their machinery and start reproducing.

The virus, which is itself only a short string of genetic material inside a protective capsule, can make only 15 proteins, so it has to adopt human proteins to its own use. Many of the proteins identified by the screen are already known to be important to cells in the immune system, which is the port of entry for H.I.V.


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