Viral protein structure study offers HIV therapy hope

June 21, 2010

National Physical Laboratory is involved in a collaborative project that is helping to further the understanding of HIV viral protein structure which could lead to new molecular medicines.

In May 2010 the project team, comprising biotechnology experts from NPL, the University of Edinburgh and IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, published some of their research in Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

The article sets out to resolve controversy over how part of an protein is structured. The research team present a definitive structure of the protein, which was obtained using experimental techniques and computer simulation. It is important to know exactly how viral proteins are structured so that drug developers can target weaknesses within it, and therefore devise better treatments for people.

NPL's Eleonora Cerasoli says: "In this research, we were looking at a part of the HIV that helps it fuse with, and then infect, healthy cells within the human body. By confirming the structure of this tiny, but significant, fragment of the HIV-1 protein we are helping to shed more light on its infection mechanism. Further work in this area will hopefully lead to a full understanding of exactly how it works, and therefore lead to better treatments for HIV."

To continue their efforts to understand the interactions between and the proteins, the research team will also be using the unique synchrotron facility available at Diamond Light Source. The insight this provides may help enable the next steps towards rational drug design and commercial exploitation.

This study is the first outcome of different investigations the research team are carrying out on biomedically important model systems. The overall scope, therefore, goes beyond understanding HIV's structure alone. The team are working on establishing structure-activity relationships which will further our understanding and treatment of other diseases, such as Alzheimer's.

Explore further: Researchers uncover direct evidence on how HIV invades healthy cells

More information: Read the 'Conformational Plasticity in an HIV-1 Antibody Epitope' article in Journal of Physical Chemistry B.

Related Stories

3D structure of HIV is discovered

January 24, 2006

Scientists say the 3D structure of the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes AIDS, has been determined for the first time.

Scientists find another key to HIV success

March 22, 2006

Weill Cornell Medical College scientists say they've determined a protein produced by HIV infected cells prevents immune B cells from producing antibodies.

Insight into structure of HIV protein could aid drug design

June 9, 2010

Researchers at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) have created a three-dimensional picture of an important protein that is involved in how HIV -- the virus responsible ...

Recommended for you

New polymer creates safer fuels

October 1, 2015

Before embarking on a transcontinental journey, jet airplanes fill up with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel. In the event of a crash, such large quantities of fuel increase the severity of an explosion upon impact. Researchers ...

Researchers print inside gels to create unique shapes

September 30, 2015

(—A team of researchers at the University of Florida has taken the technique of printing objects inside of a gel a step further by using a highly shear-rate sensitive gel. In their paper published in the journal ...

How a molecular motor untangles protein

October 1, 2015

A marvelous molecular motor that untangles protein in bacteria may sound interesting, yet perhaps not so important. Until you consider the hallmarks of several neurodegenerative diseases—Huntington's disease has tangled ...

Anti-aging treatment for smart windows

October 1, 2015

Electrochromic windows, so-called 'smart windows', share a well-known problem with rechargeable batteries – their limited lifespan. Researchers at Uppsala University have now worked out an entirely new way to rejuvenate ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.