Human Biology Scientists Find Clue To AIDS Origins

Discussion in 'Human Biology' started by helenheaven, Jan 11, 2005.

  1. helenheaven

    helenheaven Premium Member

    Just read this and thought it very interesting...your thoughts?

    A single change in a human gene may hold the key to preventing people living with HIV from progressing to full-blown AIDS, researchers said.

    They found a crucial difference between a gene in humans and one in rhesus monkeys that blocks infection of the virus in the animals - a finding that offers new insights into the origins of AIDS and gene therapy.

    Had the gene been the same in humans, scientists at the National Institute of Medical Research in London believe, there may not have been the AIDS epidemic that now affects 40 million people worldwide.

    "If it had recognised HIV, we probably would never have had AIDS. I believe it is a key change," said Dr Jonathan Stoye, head of virology at the institute.

    Scientists had been aware that it was much more difficult to infect monkey cells with HIV than human cells in laboratory experiments, which suggested there was something different in the animal cells that blocked infection.

    A gene called Trim 5 alpha was later found to be the reason why. In monkeys, but not in humans, it stops the virus from replicating.

    Stoye and his team studied differences in the gene products of the monkey and human Trim 5 alpha genes. They pinpointed one specific change in a protein that was important in blocking HIV. By substituting a human protein with a monkey-derived protein they found they could make the human cells resistant to HIV.

    "The discovery has significant implications for the development of effective gene therapy to combat AIDS," Stoye, who reported the findings in the journal Current Biology, told Reuters.

    He and his team believe introducing the gene carrying that single change back into human cells would make those cells resistant to HIV infection.

    Gene therapy is an experimental technique which introduces genetic material into cells to fight disease. The technique has been used for Parkinson's disease and in trials for illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and cancer.

    Two French boys with severe immune deficiency were cured with gene therapy but they later developed leukaemia.

    "If you have HIV this might be a form of therapy to prevent progression to AIDS. What we are suggesting one might try doing is to purify HIV negative cells out of a patient who has been infected, introduce the gene with this one modification and then put them back into people," said Stoye.

    The resistant cells might be sufficient to prevent the progression to AIDS, he added.

    But Stoye stressed that more laboratory research, followed by animal tests and human trials will be needed.

    "If this were the equivalent of adding a drug with a new target to the repertoire of drugs that we have for the treatment of AIDS, I think it would be of value."
  2. Bleys

    Bleys Phoenix Takes Flight Staff Member


    Great find Helen! Wouldn't it be wonderful if HIV can be eradicated in our lifetime.

  3. marg6043

    marg6043 Premium Member

    well is about time after all these years of different type of treatments, the cocktail pills and the expensive follow up for patients with the illness can very much become a thing of the past.
  4. bodebliss

    bodebliss The Zoc-La of Kromm-B Premium Member

  5. mscbkc070904

    mscbkc070904 Premium Member

    Great article, about time and those children that may be infected now may have chance at life, instead of dying because of the pass down of the virus to them. Not saying that parents are irresponsible, but some never knew they had the virus until usually the chil dis born or after they are pregnant. I hope this does come about and make change and we can eliminate this disease once and for all over the next 50-100 yrs.