A Scientific First–Researchers Block Replication of AIDS Virus

A multidisciplinary team of scientists from Spanish universities and research centers, including the University of Valencia, has managed to design small synthetic molecules capable of joining to the genetic material of the AIDS virus and blocking its replication. This achievement has been made for the first time in the world by a group of researcher led by Dr. José Gallego from Universidad Católica de Valencia "San Vicente Mártir." The University of Valencia, the Príncipe Felipe Research Centre, and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III have participated. The work was published November 25, 2013 by Angewandte Chemie International Edition, one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the world in the area of chemistry. The newly designed synthetic molecules inhibit the output of genetic material of the virus from the infected cell nucleus to the cytoplasm, thus the virus replication is blocked and avoids the infection of other cells. The genetic material of the AIDS virus, or HIV-1, is formed by ribonucleic acid (RNA), and encodes several proteins that allow it to penetrate the human cells and reproduce within them. The new virus inhibitors, called terphenyls, developed by this group of scientists, were designed by computer to reproduce the interactions of one of the proteins encoded by the virus, the viral protein Rev. In this way, the terphenyls join Rev’s receptor in the viral RNA, preventing the interaction between the protein and its RNA receptor. This interaction is necessary for the virus genetic material to leave the infected cell nucleus and, thus, it is essential for the survival of HIV-1. The fact that the terphenyls block the virus genetic material output of the cell prevents the infection of other cells.
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