Blood Protein Found to Block HIV Spread into Healthy Cells
A blood protein that halts the spread of HIV could pave the way for new therapies that might be able to contain the virus, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports. Researchers at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center found that AAT, a naturally occurring protein in the blood, prevents HIV from replicating and spreading to healthy cells. The researchers found that AAT blocked the infection of healthy cells by HIV by almost 80%, and blocked the production of HIV in previously infected cells by up to 100%. Since HIV "thrives" in areas of the body that contain small amounts of AAT, such as lymph nodes, scientists speculated that these "AIDS-friendly" places could be made more resistant to HIV if an infected person was injected with additional AAT. Leland Shapiro, an assistant professor of medicine at UCHS and lead study investigator, said, "I think this could be a significant new way of approaching HIV with a great potential for applications in therapy."
Shifting Treatment Methods
The scientists' "dramatic" discovery could lead to new therapies for infected patients and a "potential shift" in HIV treatment strategies. The finding might even lead to the development of a prophylactic treatment to prevent "at-risk" individuals from contracting the virus, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reports. For example, Shapiro said that AAT injections might aid HIV-positive pregnant women by prolonging the woman's life and by providing a "new line of defense" for the fetus. Experiments using a s