New discoveries make it harder for HIV to hide from drugs

Dec 15, 2010

The virus that causes AIDS is chameleon-like in its replication. As HIV copies itself in humans, it constantly mutates into forms that can evade even the best cocktail of current therapies. Understanding exactly how HIV cells change as they reproduce is key to developing better tests and treatments for patients.

In the and Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, MU microbiologist and biochemist Stefan Sarafianos, PhD, reveals new findings that shed light on how eludes treatment by mutating. His discoveries provide clues into HIV's mechanisms for resisting two main families of drugs.

"These findings are important because identifying a new mutation that affects HIV drug resistance allows physicians to make better decisions and prescribe the proper drugs," Sarafianos said. "Without that knowledge, therapy can be suboptimal and lead to early failure."

Patients with HIV are routinely tested to track the levels of the virus and immune in their body. Results of the tests help physicians gauge the health of their patients and prescribe the right mix of antiviral drugs. The drugs help prevent the spread of HIV in patients by inhibiting the virus' ability to replicate.

Sarafianos' lab determined the biochemical properties that allow strains of HIV with a specific mutation — the N348I mutation — to escape inhibition despite treatment with Nevirapine. The drug is commonly used in combination with other antiviral medications to decrease the amount of HIV in the blood. As a result of Sarafianos' discovery, at least one major company that manufactures HIV mutation-testing kits has modified its test to detect the N348I mutation.

Sarafianos' recent findings resulted from research supported by five National Institutes of Health grants. He recently received another $417,000 award from the NIH to assist him in developing modified antibodies for HIV therapy.

"Our latest efforts to design broadly neutralizing antibodies against HIV will hopefully expand our toolbox against the , which remains a constantly moving target," Sarafianos said.

Explore further: A new synthetic amino acid for an emerging class of drugs

Provided by University of Missouri School of Medicine

1 /5 (1 vote)

Related Stories

Scientists find another key to HIV success

Mar 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.

Exhausted B cells fail to fight HIV

Jul 14, 2008

HIV tires out the cells that produce virus-fighting proteins known as antibodies, according to a human study that will be published online July 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

New HIV test may predict drug resistance

Jan 07, 2007

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center have developed a highly sensitive test for identifying which drug-resistant strains of HIV are harbored in a patient's bloodstream.

Recommended for you

A new synthetic amino acid for an emerging class of drugs

Aug 31, 2014

Swiss scientists have developed a new amino acid that can be used to modify the 3-D structure of therapeutic peptides. Insertion of the amino acid into bioactive peptides enhanced their binding affinity up to 40-fold. Peptides ...

Protein glue shows potential for use with biomaterials

Aug 28, 2014

Researchers at the University of Milan in Italy have shown that a synthetic protein called AGMA1 has the potential to promote the adhesion of brain cells in a laboratory setting. This could prove helpful ...

User comments : 0