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Scientists revive dormant gene to prevent HIV transmission
05-06-2009, 12:51 AM,
#1
Scientists revive dormant gene to prevent HIV transmission
http://www.hindu. com/thehindu/ holnus/008200904 281651.htm

The Hindu News Update Service

Scientists revive dormant gene to prevent HIV transmission

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Washington (IANS): Scientists have revived a dormant gene found in
humans and have coaxed it to produce retrocyclin, a protein that resists HIV.

Alexander Cole of University of Central Florida (UCF) used
aminoglycosides, drugs commonly used to fight bacterial infections,
to trigger production of the sleeping protein expressed by the
retrocyclin gene.

"It could make a huge difference in the fight against HIV," Cole
said. "Much more work would be needed to demonstrate the safety and
effectiveness of this approach. We would certainly have to have human
trials, but these findings represent a promising step in that direction."

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. The disease, most often
transmitted sexually, affects 4.3 million people worldwide, according
to the World Health Organisation.

About 14,560 people die annually from HIV-related complications every
year in the US alone, according to the Centre for Disease Control.

Cole's quest began while he was a postdoctoral fellow in the
Department of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

There, he and his colleagues discovered that similar retrocyclin
proteins found in early primates appeared to prevent HIV infections
in cell cultures. The same gene exists in humans, but because of a
mutation, it no longer produces the protein.

Now, in collaboration with UCLA researchers, Centre for Disease
Control and his team at UCF, Cole has found that restoring the
production of retrocyclins prevents HIV entry.

He found a way to get the gene to produce retrocyclins and then
showed that the retrocyclins appear to prevent the transmission of HIV.

He applied aminoglycoside antibiotics to vaginal tissues and cervical
cells in his lab and found the antibiotic appears to stimulate those
cells and tissues to produce retrocyclins on their own.

He said there is a good possibility the aminoglycoside antibiotics
will be used in a cream or gel format that could someday be a simple
way to prevent the transmission of HIV from men to women, said a UCF release.

Findings from his three-year investigation were published in this
month's PLOS Biology.
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