University of Innsbruck: Great success in HIV research

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Chemists from the University of Innsbruck have achieved great success in HIV research. They were able to decipher a mechanism that helps the HI virus to multiply. These findings could now help to develop new therapies.

The researchers have deciphered how the virus code quickly gets out of the cell nucleus

In order to multiply, the HI virus penetrates human cells and builds its genetic information into the DNA of the cell nucleus. This is how new messenger RNA for the virus is produced. This is transported from the cell nucleus into the cell fluid, where it is transcribed into viral proteins with which the virus multiplies.

In order to leave the cell nucleus as quickly as possible, the messenger RNA of the virus needs eight to ten molecules of a specific protein. Until now, however, it was not known exactly where and in what order these proteins were deposited.

This binding point, at which the proteins are captured, has now been discovered by a working group led by Kathrin Breuker from the Institute for Organic Chemistry at the University of Innsbruck. To do this, the chemists have synthesized the natural molecules in the laboratory – and observed how they relate to one another.

With this knowledge, the replication of the virus could be interrupted in the future

With this knowledge, one could – in the course of further research – stop the virus from multiplying. That could mean a major breakthrough in HIV therapy. But the findings of the Tyrolean scientists would also explain research results that have not or only partially been understood, according to the researchers.

The findings have now been published in the renowned journal Nature Communications. The research was financially supported by the Austrian Science Fund and the Research Promotion Agency.

Dramatic numbers come from the United States: According to a US-wide survey by the LGBTI organization The Trevor Project on the mental health of young people from sexual minorities, more than 40 percent of those affected have seriously thought about suicide in the past year. In trans and non-binary adolescents, this number even rose to over 50 percent.

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