Synthetic polymer could stop the spread of HIV

Sep 03, 2013

A precisely designed macromolecule that mimics the binding of HIV to immune system cells could be used to stop the virus from physically entering the body, according to a new study led by a materials scientist at Queen Mary University of London.

The researchers created the large molecule with several sugar molecules, known as glycopolymers. By using different sugars attached to the macromolecule in solution, the scientists were able to investigate which were the most effective in inhibiting the potential binding of the virus.

They then measured how the designed macromolecules compete with the virus to bind to the dendritic cells of the immune system at different concentrations.

"These are preliminary but encouraging results for potentially preventing the spread of the HIV by sexual contact," said Dr Remzi Becer from Queen Mary's School of Engineering and Materials Science.

"We've shown that our binds to the immune cell, which in turn blocks the virus from attaching and entering. The precisely designed macromolecules could be an ingredient of a condom cream or vaginal gel to act as a physical barrier from allowing the virus into the body."

Dr Becer added: "While this isn't a cure for HIV, it is a novel approach that could dramatically slow down the spread of HIV by sexual contact, and a model that could be replicated to treat other sexually transmitted diseases."

The research is published in the journal Macromolecular Rapid Communications.

Explore further: The first animal model for sexual transmission of HIV

More information: 'Synthetic glycopolypeptides as potential inhibitory agents for dendritic cells and HIV-1 trafficking' will be published in the journal Macromolecular Rapid Communications on 3 September 2013. doi.wiley.com/10.1002/marc.201300439

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The first animal model for sexual transmission of HIV

Aug 15, 2013

Infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a debilitating disorder in which progressive weakening of the immune system makes affected individuals more susceptible to ...

Platelets block HIV

Jul 23, 2013

Scientists of the DPZ have shown that platelet activation inhibits the host cell entry of HIV

Predicting treatment response more accurately

Sep 02, 2013

The HI virus is feared, not least, because of its great adaptability. If the virus mutates at precisely the point targeted by a drug, it is able to neutralise the attack and the treatment fails. To minimise these viral defence ...

Recommended for you

Nature inspires a greener way to make colorful plastics

10 hours ago

Long before humans figured out how to create colors, nature had already perfected the process—think stunning, bright butterfly wings of many different hues, for example. Now scientists are tapping into ...

New catalyst converts carbon dioxide to fuel

11 hours ago

Scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago have synthesized a catalyst that improves their system for converting waste carbon dioxide into syngas, a precursor of gasoline and other energy-rich products, bringing ...

Bullet 'fingerprints' to help solve crimes

11 hours ago

Criminals don't just have to worry about their own fingerprints these days: because of a young forensic scientist at The University of Western Australia, they should also be very concerned about their bullets' ...

User comments : 0