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HIV gene structure decoded

7th August 2009

New US research has been published in which scientists say they have decoded the entire genetic structure of HIV-1, the main cause of AIDS in humans.

hiv bacteria infecting blood

They expect this will make way for new insights into the behaviour of the virus.

It could also quicken the pace of treatment development.

The viral structure of HIV has already been studied in depth, and is much more complex than some other viruses.

However, the genetic information hidden inside, which resides in single-stranded RNA rather than in double-stranded DNA, has not been subjected to the same thorough analysis.

This makes the virus similar to influenza, hepatitis C, and polio, all of which use RNA to reproduce themselves.

RNA is more complex to analyse, because its flexibility allows it to fold itself in multiple ways.

The new, fully decoded genome may be the key to mysteries about why the virus behaves in certain ways.

The research team at the University of North Carolina at Chape Hill said they would begin to genetically modify the virus.

Ron Swanstrom,  immunology and microbiology professor, said that if the virus does not reproduce as efficiently following mutation, then something important has been mutated or affected.

He said researchers in his team are also beginning to understand tricks the genome uses to help the virus escape detection by the human host.

David Robertson from the University of Manchester said that the new research may reveal that some of the virus' proteins are operating at a level below its folded structures.

He said that if scientists can unpick the structures and compare the systems of different viruses, they will gain a new understanding of how viruses work generally.

Keith Alcorn of the HIV information service NAM added that encouraging the virus to mutate was not a new idea, but one of a number of options on the table. He added that it remained to be seen how important the information would be for the development of new drugs.

 

 

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Comments

Nkengacha Marcellous Agendia

Friday 7th August 2009 @ 9:33

I have always believed that the society has a better future regarding HIV.
For scientists at the North Carolina University to have been able to decode the genetic structure of HIV-1 is a big success. This act will bring forth a lot more information regarding the virus to the scientists.
It is important to note that any persons ability to invade and destroy an enemy depends on how well the enemy's structures are known.
I call this whole achievement of the scientists SUCCESS. Like all other chemotherapy discoveries, it is the foundation of the solution to HIV eradication.

NKENGACHA M. AGENDIA


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