Queensland researchers believe they’ve hit upon a “light switch” protein within the HIV virus, which can be flicked off to stop it developing into full-blown AIDS…
“This has the possibility – not to eliminate the virus – but hopefully to allow us to reconstitute a human immune system that is resistant to HIV,” Associate Professor David Harrich said.
He said they experimented on a normal protein usually used by the HIV virus to replicate itself in human cells and mutated it to create the “Nullbasic” protein.
“We now have a very potent protein that can stop HIV from growing in cells,” he said…“Instead of being an activator of HIV, it’s an inhibitor of HIV…”
“The reason we got so encouraged was because of just how well this protein worked in the cell culture, so we’re fairly convinced the animal model study will be successful,” he said.
With animal then human trials predicted to take five to 10 years, Associate Professor Harrich said the ultimate goal would be to develop a gene therapy treatment – similar to therapies provided to people with cancer – that would replace current regimes of antiretroviral drugs.
“With a single therapy that you would have long-lasting protection from the virus and could lead a drug-free life,” he said.
Step by step the longest march can be won.