Study Shows HIV-1 Envelope Has Permeable Pores
Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University have discovered
that individual, biochemically-active HIV-1 viruses have permeable pores
that make the HIV-1 envelope vulnerable to certain compounds designed to
kill the virus. These findings appeared in a recent issue of the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research, led by Roger J. Pomerantz, MD, Professor of Medicine and Chief
of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Center for Human
Retrovirology at Jefferson, and Hui Zhang, MD, PhD, Research Associate,
is groundbreaking because it demonstrates that contrary to previous thought,
the HIV-1 envelope is "open," allowing researchers to target and
kill each individual virus with a group of compounds called nucleoside analog
"These compounds have the ability to penetrate the viral envelope,
incorporate into and directly terminate the life of the virus," explains
Dr. Pomerantz. "As a result, viral infectivity is potently inhibited."
Demonstrating these newly found characteristics of the viral envelope has
led Jefferson researchers to propose that nucleoside analog triphosphates
might also directly act as virucidal agents that may be quite useful in
preventing either heterosexual and/or homosexual transmission of HIV-1.
These virucidal agents, coadministered with spermicidal agents, would kill
sperm, and this formula would also kill the individual HIV-1 viruses before
they become infectious.
"It is important to remember that while this finding is extremely encouraging,
it is not a cure for HIV-1 or AIDS," says Dr. Pomerantz." In the
short-term it is our goal to use findings such as these to change AIDS from
an acute disease to a chronic, treatable one."