Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A "Fossil" Virus Involved In AIDS Drug Resistance?

Date:
December 7, 1998
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Genetic remnants of an ancient virus, incorporated into every human's DNA, may be responsible for some resistance to anti-AIDS drugs, according to researchers working for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a sub-contractor to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, Md. Noting it's a radical idea, the scientists suggest those viral genes may create an enzyme that assists the AIDS virus, HIV-1, when its own protease is rendered ineffective by current drugs.

Genetic remnants of an ancient virus, incorporated into every human's DNA, may be responsible for some resistance to anti-AIDS drugs, according to researchers working for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), a sub-contractor to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Frederick, Md. Noting it's a radical idea, the scientists suggest those viral genes may create an enzyme that assists the AIDS virus, HIV-1, when its own protease is rendered ineffective by current drugs.

Details of this research, the first isolation of a fully active protease from an endogenous virus gene, appear in the December 8 edition of the peer-reviewed journal Biochemistry, published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Every human has 30-50 incomplete copies of genetic instructions for making a now extinct virus, called human endogenous retrovirus type K (HERV-K). Why they have been preserved in humans is unclear and no infectious viral particles have been discovered to date. But the gene portions can apparently make viral parts.

SAIC scientist Eric Towler, Ph.D. says, "HERV-K protease may be complementing the activity of HIV protease during drug treatment in some way, and that's what we need to find out."

A protease is like a pair of protein scissors. HIV-1's genetic machinery churns out long protein chains from which its protease makes specific cuts to create functional parts. Protease inhibitors block the cutting. But, even in the presence of multiple inhibitors, HIV-1 often seems to find a way to get the job done. This is due, at least in part, to the virus developing mutations that make the protease resistant to multiple drugs.

"Many of the sequence changes in HERV-K protease are at the same sites where drug resistant mutations for HIV protease have been observed," says SAIC structural biochemist Sergei Gulnik, Ph.D.

It is possible that resistance is not due entirely to mutations, say the scientists. Maybe the HERV-K protease, made within a patient's own body, is taking over for some of the HIV-1 protease when it is inactivated. "We tried to determine whether any of the inhibitors that are approved or are in clinical trials can inhibit the HERV-K protease," adds Gulnik, "and we found that it is highly resistant to most of these inhibitors."

In the Biochemistry report, the scientists also say laboratory experiments show that HERV-K protease cuts at a proper site within an HIV-1 polyprotein. But they add that follow-up studies will be needed to determine whether the HERV-K protease actually lends a helping hand to HIV-1 in AIDS patients. If so, future AIDS treatments may need to be developed for yet another target. "It's a radical theory," says Towler. "The hypothesis is a little bit on the fringe, but we have had some surprising results that support it."

This research is part of an ongoing effort to establish the underlying basis of drug resistance mechanisms for HIV-1 led by Dr. John W. Erickson, Director of the SAIC/NCI Structural Biochemistry Program, and was a collaborative effort that included scientists at the Institute Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Universitatskliniken des Saarlandes, Homburg, Germany.

###

A nonprofit organization with a membership of more than 155,000 chemists and chemical engineers, the American Chemical Society publishes scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences, and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "A "Fossil" Virus Involved In AIDS Drug Resistance?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 December 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981207072757.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (1998, December 7). A "Fossil" Virus Involved In AIDS Drug Resistance?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981207072757.htm
American Chemical Society. "A "Fossil" Virus Involved In AIDS Drug Resistance?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/12/981207072757.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins