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United Press International
Lidia Wasowicz, UPI Senior Science Writer
October 5, 2001
Researchers have found how the AIDS virus usurps a cell's normal machinery to leave one cell and infect others. This is an important step toward developing drugs to control the disease, researchers said. The scientists crippled the machinery by "silencing" a gene that normally makes the Tsg101 protein. Without the protein, human immunodeficiency virus particles could not escape or "bud" from the cells. The cells would then be unable to infect nearby cells. "We showed the virus can't bud without the protein," said Wes Sundquist, a University of Utah biochemistry professor who led the study, published in the journal Cell. "Instead, the virus gets stuck at the last stage of leaving the cells." Researchers at Myriad Genetics, Inc., identified other proteins within cells that work with Tsg101 to help viruses bud from cells so they can infect other cells, said Kenton Zavitz, a Myriad molecular biologist. Many of those proteins could serve as targets for potential medicines that would cripple the machinery that helps the virus emerge from cells, scientists said.