Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New method of turning off viruses may help control HIV infection, says Jefferson scientist

03.07.2002


A natural method of disarming some types of viruses may enable scientists to someday treat infections with HIV, the AIDS virus, according to a virologist at Jefferson Medical College.



Taking the lead from the common fruit fly, yeast and worms, scientists have recently shown that it may be possible to use small pieces of genetic material called short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to inhibit HIV from making more copies of itself.

The process, called RNA interference (RNAi), was first discovered in 1998. It is so novel, says virologist Roger J. Pomerantz, M.D., professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular pharmacology and chief of the division of infectious diseases at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, that scientists only now are beginning to understand its potential to treat disease. "What’s so exciting for HIV therapy is that it may be a potent way of specifically inhibiting the virus," says Dr. Pomerantz, whose commentary accompanies a paper on the topic in the July 2002 issue of Nature Medicine.


"Does it [RNAi] work in mammals? That would be the Holy Grail," says Dr. Pomerantz, who is also director of the Center for Human Virology at Jefferson Medical College. "Researchers are showing it in mouse cells and now a team has demonstrated it in human cells."

So-called "gene silencing" isn’t new. According to Dr. Pomerantz, scientists have known for several decades that organisms can and do shut off the expression of certain genes. But, he says, no one until recently has been able to show this was occurring during the gene replication process. Scientists showed that they could stop a gene from replicating by degrading the gene’s RNA and making its protein product.

Researchers learned several years ago that certain organisms - some worms, fruit flies, yeast and even plants - use a type of RNA called double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) to shut off genes. Dr. Pomerantz explains that dsRNA is cut up by an enzyme, "Dicer," into smaller siRNAs, which in turn attach to RNA being made by the cell, rendering it useless.

Scientists showed recently that RNAi could work in mammalian cells. In the current issue of Nature Medicine, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported a series of experiments demonstrating how siRNAs might be used to fight HIV, which is an RNA virus. They used siRNAs in two ways. They showed they could silence both cellular genes necessary for HIV infection and also use siRNAs to quiet an HIV gene itself.

Dr. Pomerantz points out that the MIT report is an important step in understanding the process. "This [MIT work] is a proof of concept," he says. "The MIT team showed RNAi could work for HIV.

"Now, we need to figure out how it works and how long it lasts," he says. "Does it spread between cells? How robust is it in inhibiting HIV? Can we use it against virtually any RNA virus?" RNAi may also be useful against cancer-causing oncogenes, he adds.

"I think it [this technology] is going to explode," Dr. Pomerantz says. "It has the potential to lead to novel forms of drugs for many diseases, but there’s a lot of science to be done first to catch up to these observations."



Contact: Steve Benowitz or Phyllis Fisher, 215-955-6300. After Hours: 215-955-6060

Steve Benowitz | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?
21.09.2017 | Boston Children's Hospital

nachricht Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex
21.09.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>