People who lack a cell surface protein called CCR5 are highly resistant to infection by HIV but may be at increased risk of developing West Nile virus (WNV) illness when exposed to the mosquito-borne virus, report researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study, by Philip M. Murphy, M.D., and colleagues, appears online today in The Journal of Experimental Medicine. The findings may have cautionary implications for physicians who are treating HIV-positive individuals with experimental CCR5-blocking drugs, say the scientists.
"This is the first genetic risk factor to be identified for West Nile virus infection," says NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "While infection does not always lead to illness, the virus can sometimes cause serious problems and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 102 deaths in the United States from West Nile virus infection in 2005."
"A decade ago, a number of research groups, including Dr. Murphys, determined that CCR5 is the primary co-receptor used by HIV to infect cells," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "Their work laid the foundation for the development of CCR5-blocking drugs, which are designed to slow the spread of HIV from cell to cell."
Anne A. Oplinger | EurekAlert!
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