RNAi screening finds 273 proteins used by HIV

Harvard Medical School's Dr. Stephen J. Elledge and a team of scientists used RNA interference to screen thousands of protein-making genes, and have identified 273 proteins HIV needs in order to survive in human cells. The finding raises the possibility that the proteins may be targets for the treatment of AIDS. Previously, only 36 of proteins were known to play a role in HIV's survival.

Patients using current treatments often have to switch drug regimens as the virus mutates and becomes immune to older drugs. A therapy based on these new findings wouldn't have that same problem, since it would block the disease from entering human cells entirely. However, according to a Harvard press release, "the challenge will be to develop drugs that inhibit HIV by interacting with these human proteins without hurting our cells." Currently, only one drug prevents the virus from entering white blood cells--Pfizer's recently-approved Selzentry. The Harvard study was published in Science Magazine.

- see this press release on the findings
- read the New York Times article for more