A new compound has blocked H.I.V. infection so well in monkeys that it may be able to function as a vaccine against AIDS, the scientists who designed it reported Wednesday.
H.I.V. has defied more than 30 years of conventional efforts to fashion a vaccine. The new method stimulates muscle cells to produce proteins that somewhat resemble normal antibodies, which have Y-shaped heads. These proteins have both a head and a tail, and they use them to simultaneously block two sites on each “spike” that the virus uses to attach itself to a cell.
If both sites can be blocked on every spike, the virus becomes helpless and drifts off unattached into eventual oblivion by the immune system.
Source: New York Times
LATEST STUDY SHOWS EVOLUTION SLOWING
A number of our memnbers are HIV positive and, thankfully, are able to resist the scourges of this virus using the “cocktail” of drugs. They have been able to live a “normal” life and our Association has educated our members at our National Conventions on these issues.
The virus can replicate in new forms to resist these drugs, but that may be weakening according to a recent study. Apparently, in the presence of these drugs the virus evolution slows down due to continual pressure on the “escape mutants”.
The researchers compared data from Botswana and South Africa. Studies showed that viral replication capacity decreased during the same time span.
Researchers wanted to know whether the same effect could be seen in a comparison of epidemiological data between Botswana and South Africa. Researchers tested the effects of antiretroviral therapy on the virus. They created a mathematical model that showed this treatment slightly accelerates the evolution of HIV variants with a lower replication capacity.
There is still caution that these ideas perhaps only adress a relatively narrow set of gene variants that affect AIDS progression. Nonetheless, they may allow scientists to reduce the destructive power of HIV over time.
Sources: Los Angeles Times and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.