Medical Research Council (MRC) scientists have uncovered an important clue to understanding the origins of the AIDS epidemic. The work suggests that harnessing natural mechanisms of resistance to HIV infection might provide new methods for combating AIDS.
The research team at the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research pinpointed crucial differences in a gene found in rhesus monkeys that can prevent HIV infection, and its human counterpart, that cannot.
The differences indicate that HIV infection would not have become established in the human population if the form of the gene present in certain monkeys had also been present in humans. More importantly, the studies reveal that only a single change to the human gene is needed to enable it to interfere with the replication process of the HIV virus and prevent infection.
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