Have we had the tools to fight HIV all along? It sure sounds that way. Young Canadian researcher Stephen Barr discovered a naturally occurring gene that stops the development and spread of HIV into neighboring cells.
[Barr], a molecular virologist in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, says his team has identified a gene called TRIM22 that can block HIV infection in a cell culture by preventing the assembly of the virus.
“When we put this gene in cells, it prevents the assembly of the HIV virus,” said Barr, a postdoctoral fellow. “This means the virus cannot get out of the cells to infect other cells, thereby blocking the spread of the virus.”
“There are always newly emerging drug-resistant strains of HIV so the push has been to develop more natural means of blocking the virus. The discovery of this gene, which is natural in our cells, might provide a different avenue,” said Barr.
Now all we’ve got to do is figure out how to harness and distribute the damn thing!