Future HIV Drugs by Targeting the Capsid

July 17, 2018  Source: FiercePharma 133

Current HIV drugs usually act on enzymes needed by the virus throughout its survival. But no drug targets the outermost layer of the virus named the capsid, which protects the genetic material delivered into the host.

Research teams in Australia and the U.K. have been working on the capsid layer of HIV. Leo James, the lead investigator of this research work at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, U.K., stated that the HIV capsid should be strong enough to hide from the immune system but it is not so strong that it would be impossible to release the genetic material into the host.

Using single-molecule microscopy, the research group observed the breaking of the capsid layer. They found that the capsid binds to an acid named inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6) present in plant and mammalian cells. IP6 stabilizes the capsid for more than 10 hours. But when IP6 is absent, the capsid would fall apart within minutes.

Till Böcking, an associate professor from the University of New South Wales said, "It's like a switch. When you bind this molecule, you stabilize the capsid, and release the molecule to open it up."

The research team reported that it is possible to fight HIV infection in future by targeting IP6 and dissociating the capsid.

By Ddu
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