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Monday 19th March 2018

AIDS virus breakthrough

1st February 2010

UK and US researchers have made an important discovery which could lead to improved treatment for the AIDS virus after 20 years of research.

hiv virus

The researchers managed to grow a crystal which let them view the structure of the integrase enzyme. The enzyme is part of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and has been targeted by some recent medicines.

According to the research, which was published in the Nature journal, 40,000 trials were carried out before the team created a crystal which allowed them to view the enzyme.

"Despite initially painstakingly slow progress and very many failed attempts, we did not give up and our effort was finally rewarded," said co-researcher Peter Cherepanov of Imperial College London.

Researchers from Harvard University and Imperial said that understanding how the structure of the enzyme worked could help to develop better medication and prevent the virus from becoming resistant to it.

Jason Warriner, Clinical Director for Terrence Higgins Trust, said: 'This is a step in the right direction. All of these things add to our knowledge, and hopefully this will lead to new and better treatments, but we're still a long way off the final answer. The only way we will get there is by sustained investment in HIV research."

Around 63,500 people over the age of 15 in the UK were estimated to have HIV by the close of 2005. One third of this number would have no idea that they were infected with the virus.

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