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 Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University

nachricht 3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

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: Powerful IT security for the car of the future – research alliance develops new approaches

The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.

Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...

Im Focus: Molecular switch will facilitate the development of pioneering electro-optical devices

A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.

The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

In focus: Climate adapted plants

25.05.2018 | Event News

Flow probes from the 3D printer

25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering

Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found

25.05.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>