UofM researchers announce progress in HIV research

Posted on 21 Feb 2008 at 1:48pm
By Staff Reports

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have "taken a crucial step" toward understanding the structure of proteins involved in inhibiting HIV-1 infection, according to a statement released Wednesday, Feb. 20, by university officials.

According to the statement, Hiroshi Matsuo, Ph.D., and Reuben Harris, Ph.D., co-investigators of the research and assistant professors in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics at the University of Minnesota, have determined the structure of APOBEC3G a protein that inhibits HIV.

The discovery is "the first to shed light on the atomic structure of the protein," the statement said. The research was released online on Wednesday on the Nature Web site and will be featured in an upcoming print publication of the journal.

According to the statement released Wednesday, the APOBEC3G protein is capable of modifying the DNA of the AIDS virus so that the virus is no longer infectious. HIV-1, however, has developed a way to evade this potent cellular protein with its own protein called Vif, which triggers the destruction of APOBEC3G.

The discovery by Matsuo and Harris will help researchers manipulate APOBEC3G to make it effective in combating HIV, and current studies also will help develop methods to neutralize Vif before it has a chance to destroy the protein, the researchers said.

"This new information is a crucial step toward understanding how APOBEC3G and Vif talk to each other," Harris said. "Furthermore this new information will undoubtedly help researchers identify candidate drugs for future novel HIV-1/AIDS therapies."

The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health and from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics and the Medica Foundation.

WHERE DO THEY STAND?
The Kaiser Family Foundation, on its election Web site at www.health08.org, has launched a new "Issue Spotlight" intended to summarize presidential candidates’ statements and positions on global health and HIV/AIDS issues.
The new section of the Web site presents brief synopses of the frontrunning candidates’ positions, a selection of quotes and links to additional resources, according to a statement released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The site’s side-by-side summary also allows readers to compare candidates’ domestic health care proposals on health care coverage, cost containment, quality of care and financing.

The foundation also offers additional information and statistics on global health conditions including HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria at www.GlobalHealthReporting.org and www.GlobalHealthFacts.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 22, 2008.

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