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The gene that has unlocked the key to HIV

HIV infects some 34 million people worldwide, and is transferred due to the exchange of bodily fluids, through things like having a blood transfusion or sexual intercourse. Although this is a comparatively small problem in the UK, it can be a problem in developing countries. But still, particularly in many wealthy countries, there are many effective drugs that allow HIV  patients to live long and healthy lives, although some of these drugs can have side effects and patients can even become resistant to the drugs they are given [1]

A key to HIV has recently been discovered, an early stage study in the journal Nature, mentioned that researchers said that a gene called MX2 plays a key role in how human cells control HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). This discovery could lead to the advancement in treatments for the virus which would be less toxic and may lead to easier methods of treatment and theoretically more successful ones.

Although there are many more years of research ahead, scientists at King’s College London believe that the finding is “extremely exciting” as it is said to advance our understanding of how HIV interacts with the immune system. The scientists at King’s College, London found that by ‘silencing’ cells with the MX2 gene the virus replicated and spread to other parts of the body however the cells that had a functional MX2 gene the virus didn’t replicate. It is hoped that scientists might be able to create a drug that replicates the role of the MX2 gene, in order to hopefully prevent the spread of the virus. Any future drugs would also avoid the problem of resistance to the drugs. [2]

References: 1. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/HIV/Pages/Introduction.aspx

2. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/18/us-hiv-idUSBRE98H0SW20130918

 

 

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