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December 31st, 2009
Lab Developed Synthetic Proteins Hinders HIV Virus

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have published a report detailing their ability to block HIV infections in the lab, using synthetic proteins that prevent the virus from inhabiting healthy cells.  The scientist’s synthetic molecules that hinder the HIV protein, gp41, from contacting host cell proteins.

The scientific study, which will appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, explain that interactions among proteins are of a biological nature, which includes tumor growth and infection.  By disrupting these interactions, the HIV virus is unable to contaminate cells.

Chemistry professor Samuel Gellman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison explains “There’s a lot of information transfer that occurs when proteins come together, and one would often like to block that information flow.”

Synthetic peptide – like molecules have prevailed past attempts at protein interference, because of their altered structures that enzymes are unable to identify.  The lab’s synthetic molecules had been changed, in order to enhance their ability capability to resist enzyme degradation, yet at the same time maintaining their three-dimensional form, mandatory for HIV gp14 protein recognition.

In simple terms Gellman stated that the effort to “find an alternative language, an alternative way to express the information that the proteins express [means we can] interfere with a conversation that one protein is having with another,” he adds that their research will potentially lead to generate alternative treatments for other diseases-causing protein interactions, such as influenza and Ebola virus.


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