February 2, 2011
Researchers have engineered an RNA molecule to block freely circulating HIV as well as replication inside infected cells. Tests in mice engineered to be susceptible to HIV showed the chimeric RNAs reduced HIV-1 replication by several orders and staved off viral-induced CD4+ T-cell declines, say researchers.
One part of the RNA molecule has a high binding affinity to the gp120 protein found on the surface of HIV's envelope and on HIV-infected cells. It is designed to neutralize free-floating HIV in the blood and attach to and deliver into infected cells a small interfering RNA (siRNA) "that triggers sequence-specific degradation of HIV RNAs," the study authors wrote.
"You're only targeting what has to be targeted," said co-author John Rossi, a molecular biologist at the City of Hope's Beckman Research Institute in Duarte, Calif., who likened the molecule to a "smart bomb."
01.19.2011; Cassandra Willyard
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