Yale University Cancer Center scientists
have developed a new class of proteins that inhibit HIV infection in cell
cultures and may open the way to new strategies for treating and preventing
infection by the virus that causes AIDS. The findings appear online in the Journal of Virology.
AIDS slowly weakens the immune system and
allows life-threatening infections and cancers to thrive. The Yale team
isolated six 43- and 44-amino acid proteins that inhibited cell-surface and
total expression of an essential HIV receptor and blocked HIV infection in
laboratory cell cultures.
The proteins were modeled after a protein from
a papillomavirus that causes warts in cows. This bovine papillomavirus is
related to the human papillomaviruses that cause cervical cancer and some head
and neck cancers.
“We have constructed an entirely new class
of proteins that inhibit HIV infection. These proteins do not occur in nature,
so our findings suggest a radical new strategy to prevent AIDS,” said senior
author Daniel DiMaio, deputy director of the Yale Cancer Center, and Waldemar
Von Zedtwitz, professor of genetics at Yale School of Medicine. “If these
proteins are found to be active in people, they may provide a way to prevent
AIDS and its consequences, including cancer.”
Research on papillomaviruses began in the
DiMaio laboratory almost 30 years ago, before the AIDS epidemic had emerged and
the role of papillomaviruses in cancer was known.
“Of course, there are many hurdles to
taking a laboratory finding like this into the clinic, but because these
proteins dramatically inhibit HIV in cell culture, they should be evaluated
further,” DiMaio explained.
Source: Yale University