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New discovery blocks HIV replication

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A collaboration between several universities in Spain has led to a new drug that blocks HIV replication. Researchers were able to develop a molecule that binds to the genetic material of HIV and prevent its replication. According to the study, the new molecule,  terphenyl, which is a Rev inhibitor, is able to stop the replication of the virus and to prevent the infection of other cells.

HIV is a retrovirus which means that the genetic material is composed of RNA. The genetic material contains nine genes that encode for proteins that make up the structure of the virus. Each gene has a specific role, for example, the genes tat, rev , nef , vif encode for proteins that are involved in viral replication or the ability to infect other cells. Terphenyl, the new synthetic molecule created by a team of Spanish researchers, inhibits the viral protein Rev. Terphenyl, the new drug, binds to the receptor Rev of viral RNA and blocks the interaction between the protein and its RNA receptor. This interaction is essential for the virus to leave the infected cell.


World Health Organisation ( WHO) estimated that in 2010 there were approximately 34 million individuals infected with HIV. Although HIV incidence has remained stable in recent years, however, there are certain categories  which are more affected than others such as African-Americans. It must be said, however, that although HIV incidence has remained stable, the number of people living with HIV has increased.

The emergence of resistance to antiretroviral therapies and the absence of a vaccine to combat the disease have led researchers to look for other therapeutic targets. Rev protein is considered one of these alternative targets. Now researchers want to improve the pharmacological properties oh Rev inhibitors.

Although there has not been discovered a cure for AIDS, there are several treatment regimens known as antiretroviral therapies, which keep the disease under control. There are several classes of drugs used in the management of AIDS : entry inhibitors ( or fusion inhibitors ), nucleoside and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors ( NRTIs or NtRTI ), non – nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI ), integrase inhibitors and protease inhibitors. These drugs are used in combination therapies, of which the most common is called HAART, that is that highly active antiretroviral therapy. Studies have shown that HAART controls the disease by maintaining the function of the immune system and by preventing opportunistic infections.