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Protein blocks HIV, other deadly viruses




 

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they identified a protein with broad virus-fighting properties that potentially could be used as a weapon viruses such as HIV and Ebola.

Su-Yang Liu, a student, and Genhong Cheng, a professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, said the novel anti-viral property of the protein, cholesterol-25-hydroxylase, is an enzyme that converts cholesterol to an oxysterol called 25-hydroxycholesterol, which can permeate a cell's wall and block a virus from entering.

The cholesterol-25-hydroxylase enzyme is activated by interferon, an essential antiviral cell-signaling protein produced in the body, the researchers said.

"Anti-viral genes have been hard to apply for therapeutic purposes because it is difficult to express genes in cells," Liu said in a statement. "Cholesterol-25-hydroxylase produces a natural, soluble oxysterol that can be synthesized and administered. Also, our initial studies showing that 25HC can inhibit HIV growth in vivo should prompt further study into membrane-modifying cholesterols that inhibit viruses."

The discovery is particularly relevant to efforts to develop broad-spectrum antivirals against an increasing number of emerging viral pathogens, Liu said.

The findings were published in the journal Immunity.



 


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Information in this article was accurate in February 14, 2013. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.