Scientists discover proteins that enhance HIV's ability to infect cells
Researchers have been working on a microbicide that will help prevent the spread of HIV for years. The drug is a gel that women use during intercourse to potentially stop the virus from infecting healthy cells.
Recently, a team of scientists at the Gladstone Institutes made a discovery that may lead to more effective microbicides for HIV.
Authors of the study said that current drugs are only partially effective, because although they are able to target the virus, they fail to stop it from interacting with semen components that apparently help HIV invade cells. Their discovery of a protein fragment present in semen that allows the virus to infect healthy cells may be a breakthrough in prevention treatments.
"Now that we more fully understand how HIV hijacks these components to promote its own infection, we are one step closer to developing a microbicide that can more effectively stop HIV," said first author Nadia R. Roan, Ph.D.
In the meantime, individuals can practice safer sex by minimizing their number of partners, using condoms and getting tested regularly for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.