If there is one thing that we can identify as a horseman of the apocalypse, it is HIV – uniting the end of the century, with all of the mystery that surrounded it, and the deadly, unknown virus that came out of Africa.
While many of the superstitions associated with the virus have become diluted over time, alarming statistics about the infection rate and the lack of a cure mean that HIV is a global issue. Even the United Nations has created an agency that focuses exclusively on this cause.
A recent investigation, for example, led to the discovery of a new natural defence mechanism against infections caused by the virus responsible for AIDS, as the magazine Amazings reported.
Yong-Hui Zheng and his team from Michigan State University in the United States discovered a protein, ERManI, which prevents the pandemic virus from reproducing.
The article recounts how, in previous studies, Zheng and his team of colleagues tested a strategy that seems to successfully interfere with HIV-1 reproduction, although they were not able to identify the mechanism behind the process.
“With this new study, we now know that ERManI is a fundamental part of the mechanism, and that this protein has huge potential as an antiretroviral treatment,” he explained to the publication.
However, he stresses that these treatments are not vaccines; they simply keep HIV at bay so that it is kept at a low level within the body.
Although several decades may pass before it will be possible to prescribe a treatment based on ERManI to patients infected with the disease, Zheng’s results lay solid foundations for progress through future studies with human cells and by referring to previous clinical trials.
According to the text, the next step in this line of research will be determining whether resistance to HIV can be improved by increasing levels of ERManI.
Figures from the World Health Organisation confirm that the virus is a global issue and that nearly ten million people had received antiretroviral treatment in lower and middle income countries by 2012.
However, over 16 million people who meet the conditions for receiving this treatment according to new guidelines published in 2013 do not have access to antiretroviral medication.
(Translated by: Roz Harvey)