September 26, 1995
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Researchers may have discovered how the AIDS virus prevents immune cells from reproducing, thus leaving the body unable to fight infection. In addition to new insight into how HIV functions, the discovery also could lead to drugs benefiting cancer patients.
According to a study at the University of California at Los Angeles, a previously known but little understood gene in the AIDS virus can block reproduction of so-called CD4-T cells that act as part of the body's natural defense.
The gene, Vpr, is one of nine known to be part of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. CD4-T cells attack viruses and bacteria that invade the body.
The discovery could hold implications for cancer patients because most cancer therapy involves stopping cells from growing. Radiation and different drug therapies are the current methods of doing so. Researchers hope drugs could be developed that would act on cancerous cells as Vpr does on CD4-T cells.
The study was published in the October 1 issue of the Journal of Virology.
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