Reviving Dormant Protein That Resists HIV Could Further Microbicide Research
By tinkering with a dormant human gene, researchers at the University of Central Florida have found a way to produce a protein that resists HIV in the lab, the AP/Orlando Sentinel reports (Quintero, AP/Orlando Sentinel, 4/28). The researchers say that the findings could one day be used to create a topical cream, or microbicide, that helps to prevent the transmission of HIV from men to women, McClatchy-Tribune News Service/Journal Gazette reports (McClatchy-Tribune News Service/Journal Gazette, 4/28).
Alexander Cole and colleagues used aminoglycosides common antibiotics to wake up the human gene responsible for producing the HIV-resistant proteins called retrocyclin. Though humans and primates share the gene that codes for retrocyclin, which has been shown to prevent HIV transmission in cell cultures, the human gene, unlike the primate gene, does not make the protein on its own, IANS/Hindu reports (IANS/Hindu, 4/28). By applying the aminoglycoside antibiotic to vaginal and cervical cells in the lab, researchers were able to stimulate the cells to make retrocyclin, according to the AP/Orlando Sentinel.
"There is a good chance the aminoglycosides antibiotics will be used in a topical cream as a way to prevent the transmission of HIV from men to women," Cole said, according to McClatchy-Tribune News Service/Journal Gazette. "It could make a huge difference in the fight against HIV," he added. Though, Cole was cautious to outline a timeframe for the production of an HIV-fighting cream, the AP/Orlando Sentinel reports (AP/Orlando Sentinel, 4/28). "Much more work would be needed to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of this approach," Cole said, according to IANS/Hindu. "We would certainly have to have human trials, but these findings represent a promising step in that direction" (IANS/Hindu, 4/28).
The study is available online at PLoS Biology.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.