Chinese researchers say further work is necessary before clinical trials are possible.
Chinese scientists have identified a new protein that restricts HIV infection, a discovery that could pave the way for the development of new drugs against the virus.
The protein, P-selectin glycoprotein ligand 1 (PSGL-1), which exists in human cells, can inhibit the process by which HIV replicates, according to research published in Nature Microbiology.
However, the study also showed that PSGL-1 can be negatively affected by Vpu-an accessory protein of HIV-which can neutralise the ability of PSGL-1 to resist HIV.
Further research is underway to develop a drug that can inhibit the HIV protein so that PSGL-1 can restrict HIV.
Several other proteins in human cells that could resist HIV have been discovered over the past 10 years, although the virus can also evade them.
PSGL-1 shows particular promise in that it can inhibit the HIV in multiple ways-especially by blocking the infectiousness of virus offspring.
The researchers say it will require at least three to five years for the research to reach the preclinical stage, and even more time before a clinical trial is possible.
The research was conducted by researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Fudan University in Shanghai and George Mason University in the United States.
Existing treatment methods for people with HIV/AIDS, which mostly rely on a combination of different drugs, can prevent the disease from progressing but cannot cure, and long-term use of drugs can result in drug resistance. The study provides new leads to developing antiviral drugs for this group of people.
An estimated 37 million people in the world live with HIV according to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS.
In China, around 1.25 million people are infected, and there are about 80,000 new cases a year, according to the National Health Commission. [APBN]
Source: China Daily