Researchers discover gene that blocks HIV

March 1, 2008 |

A team of researchers at the University of Alberta has discovered a gene that is able to block HIV, and in turn prevent the onset of AIDS.

Stephen Barr, a molecular virologist in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, says his team has identified a gene called TRIM22 that can block HIV infection in a cell culture by preventing the assembly of the virus.

“When we put this gene in cells, it prevents the assembly of the HIV virus,” said Barr, a postdoctoral fellow. “This means the virus cannot get out of the cells to infect other cells, thereby blocking the spread of the virus.”

Barr and his team also prevented cells from turning on the TRIM22 gene – provoking an interesting phenomenon: the normal response of interferon, a protein that co-ordinates attacks by genes like TRIM22 against viral infections, became useless at blocking HIV infection.

“This means that TRIM22 is an essential part of our body’s ability to fight off HIV. The results are very exciting because they show that our bodies have a gene that is capable of stopping the spread of HIV.”

One of the greatest challenges in battling HIV is the virus’ ability to mutate and evade medications. Antiretroviral drugs introduced during the late 1990s interfere with HIV’s ability to produce new copies of itself – and though beneficial, the drugs are unable to eradicate the virus. Barr and his team have discovered a gene that could potentially do the job naturally.

“There are always newly emerging drug-resistant strains of HIV so the push has been to develop more natural means of blocking the virus. The discovery of this gene, which is natural in our cells, might provide a different avenue,” said Barr. “The gene prevents the assembly of the virus so in the future the idea would be to develop drugs or vaccines that can mimic the effects of this gene.”

“We are currently trying to figure out why this gene does not work in people infected with HIV and if there is a way to turn this gene on in those individuals,” he added. “We hope that our research will lead to the design of new drugs, or vaccines that can halt the person-to-person transmission of HIV and the spread of the virus in the body, thereby blocking the onset of AIDS.”

The researchers are now investigating the gene’s ability to battle other viruses.

Barr’s research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. The findings are published in the Public Library of Science Pathogens.

6 Responses to Researchers discover gene that blocks HIV

  1. Anonymous March 26, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    Alert to thinking minds!!

    HIv, FYI, is a retrovirus. Does anyone understand what class of virus that is? Retrovirus got their name by what’s called reverse transcriptaese. That is, they insert themselves into cells by RNA first, unlike real cytotoxic virus (HVV, HPV, HSV) that insert DNA first. That is why HIv cannot kill the cell it infects and only infects 1 in 500 to 1000 T-cells, hardly enough to compromise the immune system. Retrovirus are called passenger virus. HIv is passed parenatally, then destroyed by immune response. Thousands of passenger virus infect the body and are passed daily. All the tests for HIv are flawed and cannot detect the virus itself. They carry disclaimers saying so. And many diseases can cross react with the proteins in the Elisa type tests. Up to 70% false positives. The focus is to get people on the chemo HAART regimens which are immune destroying drugs. Admited by the first manufactureres of AZT. AZT dirivative drugs were designed for cancer tumors in the 60’s and were not approved by FDA then due to high toxicity. AZT destroys bone marrow and DNA chains.

    Read Duesberg unbiased please. “Inventing the AIDS Virus” He mapped the DNA/RNA of retrovirus. All molecular cell biologists refer to him as the expert on retrovirus.

  2. Anonymous March 7, 2008 at 10:34 pm #

    I work for the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada ( You can find the study itself at

  3. Anonymous March 3, 2008 at 9:46 am #

    Just telling people not to do something has never stopped them from doing it. Even explaining why they shouldn’t doesn’t always work. You have to instill a deep-rooted fear of dire consequence into them. This is why religion is so effective.

  4. Anonymous March 2, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    We dearly desire an end to this dreadful killer monster(AIDS). If a cure is found wont people go back old style again? Think; need to still preach the abstinence largely; prevention, rather than cure.

  5. Ahmed El Hadeka March 2, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    Thank you ..

    I really (as anyone else) wish to completly end this devil AIDS

    But could you please tell us the source of that news item ?!

    thank you

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