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Nonstick coating of a protein found in semen reduces HIV infection
Date:9/23/2010

gs to a mix of SEVI, virus and cells, rates of infection dropped to levels observed when SEVI was absent. They saw a similar effect with semen as well, evidence that this potential microbicide supplement works to inhibit infection within a mixture of proteins and other molecules found in seminal fluid.

The coating molecule is a modified form of thioflavin-T, a dye that stains amyloid proteins. It fits in between the individual small proteins that cluster to form SEVI and blocks SEVI's interactions with both the virus and the target immune cells.

"Other people have tried to do the same thing by targeting the virus or the cells it infects. What we do is target the mediator between the virus and the cells," Yang said. "By neutralizing SEVI, we prevent at least one way for HIV to attach to the cells."

The new molecule has another advantage. Unlike many current microbicide candidates aimed at reducing HIV infection, this one doesn't cause inflammation in cervical cells.

"Recent studies have shown for the first time that a topical microbicide gel can protect women from HIV-1 infection. This is a huge step forward but not a perfect solution. We need to figure out ways to further improve protection - and our studies suggest one way of doing so," said Dewhurst, who is the corresponding author of the report. "It may be possible to produce a next-generation microbicide that includes both an antiviral agent, as has been used in the past, and an agent that targets SEVI. We're very excited about exploring this idea."


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Contact: Susan Brown
sdbrown@ucsd.edu
858-246-0161
University of California -- San Diego
Source:Eurekalert

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