Protein found in cells may be the answer
Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have found alpha-defensin-1, a protein found in immune cells, can control HIV infection by at least two mechanisms. Earlier studies have primarily looked at the role of defensins in bacterial diseases. A study published the March 1 print edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI) examines their role as natural antiviral substances.
Theresa Chang and colleagues at Mount Sinai School of Medicine analyzed how alpha-defensin-1 inhibits HIV infection in white blood cells (CD4+ T cells). Defensins have been shown to have anti-HIV activity. The body attempts to protect itself from HIV infection via the innate immune system. "Understanding the mechanism by which natural host defenses work against viruses such as HIV will give us insight into understanding the host virus relationship," says Theresa Chang, PhD, first author of the study and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "This study suggests they may be quite important not only to HIV but to other viral infections."
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