Protein Mechanism That Inhibits HIV: SAMHD 1

The number of different functions a single cell carries out is staggering. New systems and operations continuously come to light, as researchers dig deeper into the profound workings of living things. This search has exposed a process within human cells that may prove useful in the fight against HIV. Current HIV treatments target the virus itself along with the proteins therein. What time has shown, however, is that these change and mutate. What is needed is a protein mechanism that inhibits HIV but doesn’t mutate. The new findings could do just this, as they could aid in developing new treatments that target human molecules that are not known or likely to mutate.

Within the cell, certain building blocks are used to make up new strands of DNA. These are nucleotides. When HIV infects a host cell, it sends two strands of RNA into the cell. These strands must be changed to DNA, in order for the infection to take place. However, before this task can be completed, nucleotides are necessary. It was found that a certain protein found in human cells is responsible for the amount of nucleotides present in that cell. Experiments have been done to map out the workings of the protein labeled SAMHD 1. Mechanisms have been identified that can trigger a sort of emptying of nucleotides from the cell. When this happens, there is no way for HIV to infect the cell.

Researchers are looking into developing inhibitors that can reduce the amounts of SAMHD 1 and therefore limit how many nucleotides reside in certain immune cells. If this protein mechanism that inhibits HIV is successful, a new generation of HIV therapy will be born. Should this happen, new treatments will be available that could be immune to mutations. Applying this science to other infections is another possibility too. Preventing infection and spread of HIV would go a long way to advancing us in the battle against the persistent virus.