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 Uncuffing nitric oxide production: Beta-arrestin2 complexes regulate NO levels
05.06.2020 | Medical University of South Carolina

nachricht Diabetes mellitus: A risk factor for early colorectal cancer
27.05.2020 | Nationales Centrum für Tumorerkrankungen (NCT) Heidelberg

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: Restoring vision by gene therapy

Latest scientific findings give hope for people with incurable retinal degeneration

Humans rely dominantly on their eyesight. Losing vision means not being able to read, recognize faces or find objects. Macular degeneration is one of the major...

Im Focus: Small Protein, Big Impact

In meningococci, the RNA-binding protein ProQ plays a major role. Together with RNA molecules, it regulates processes that are important for pathogenic properties of the bacteria.

Meningococci are bacteria that can cause life-threatening meningitis and sepsis. These pathogens use a small protein with a large impact: The RNA-binding...

Im Focus: K-State study reveals asymmetry in spin directions of galaxies

Research also suggests the early universe could have been spinning

An analysis of more than 200,000 spiral galaxies has revealed unexpected links between spin directions of galaxies, and the structure formed by these links...

Im Focus: New measurement exacerbates old problem

Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades: their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.

Hot astrophysical plasmas fill the intergalactic space, and brightly shine in stellar coronae, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants. They contain...

Im Focus: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

New image of a cancer-related enzyme in action helps explain gene regulation

05.06.2020 | Life Sciences

Silicon 'neurons' may add a new dimension to computer processors

05.06.2020 | Physics and Astronomy

Protecting the Neuronal Architecture

05.06.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>