Monday, April 25, 2011

Protein in Monkeys Makes Them Resistant to HIV

Recent research at the University of Geneva and the University of Zurich have discovered that a protein called, TRIM5 is responsible for making certain species of monkeys resistant to HIV. It has been known for a few years that this protein was able to resist HIV in monkeys, but it was unclear how this was possible.

In the past few weeks recent discoveries have been made as to how TRIM5 is capable of resisting HIV. "The protein prevents the HI virus from multiplying once it has entered the cell" (ScienceDaily). This is possible because TRIM5 is able to immediately recognize when HIV enters the body and it triggers an immune response. This response is triggered through the innate immune system which differs from the adaptive immune system because it "is already able to eliminate pathogens as soon as it comes into contact with them" (ScienceDaily).

The research done at these universities has revelead how TRIM5 prevents HIV from multiplying. When HIV enters a cell, it is arranged in a complex arrangement that TRIM5 recognizes and attaches itself to. Once TRIM5 is attached it is able to trigger certain signal molecules called "polybiquitin chains" that start an anti-viral reaction to the HIV inside the cell. After this process occurs, the cell can begin to get rid of cells with HIV by "releasing messenger substances (cytokines)" (ScienceDaily).

Although this study showed that "rhesus" monkeys, also called night monkeys, were able to resist HIV, it provides new possibilities in the prevention and treatment of HIV. TRIM5 is not a protein that is unique to monkeys, humans have this protein as well. Even though it does not appear to be as effective in resisting HIV as it does in these monkeys it brings scientists closer to finding ways to fight HIV.


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