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September 20, 2013

Discovery of new gene may prevent spread of HIV

Topics: Health Issues


According to a study published in the journal Nature, scientists have discovered a new gene that may have the ability to prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from spreading once it enters the body,

Researchers from King's College London in the UK say the gene, called MX2, could lead to new effective and less toxic treatment against HIV - the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

[...] On observing the effects, the researchers found that in the cells in which the MX2 gene was expressed, the HIV virus was unable to replicate, therefore stopping new viruses from being produced.

More here.

Although it has previously been thought that HIV would increase in virulence as it passed through an increasing number of human hosts, a 2005 study by a team at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, in Antwerp suggested that the opposite is actually true:

(...)"What appears to be happening is that by the time HIV passes from one person to another, it has already toned down some of its most pathogenic effects in response to its host's immune system," ...

(...)"So the virus that is passed on is less 'fit' each time. ...

(...)"This would suggest that over several generations, HIV could become less harmful to its human hosts.

If the results reported from both studies are correct, that the virus actually weakens as it passes from host to host, and that the discovery of the MX2 gene can lead to new effective and less toxic treatment against HIV, does this means we may be well on the way to ending the AIDs epidemic as this website suggests? After all, each and every step toward combination prevention and treatment juxtaposed with attenuation of the virus makes this all the more possible.

Posted by Hyscience at September 20, 2013 8:36 PM

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