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Restoring Innate HIV Defenses

Restoring Innate HIV Defenses


One of the reasons HIV is such a powerful foe is its ability to deactivate a human enzyme that plays a vital role in the immune system's ability to prevent infections. Now researchers at the University of Southern California report in the online edition of the journal Nature that they have discovered potential new drug targets that could keep the enzyme active. An HIV protein called Vif binds to and suppresses the human enzyme APOBEC-3G, which disables the enzyme's natural antiviral activity. The USC team's 3-D atomic analysis pinpointed the precise segments of the HIV protein and the human enzyme that are involved, effectively identifying new targets for treatments aimed at preventing Vif attachment. The research team also believes its discoveries could be used to help develop treatments for hepatitis viruses, which use similar intracellular tactics to escape the body's immune system defenses.

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