An international team of researchers from Finland, Russia, Switzerland, the UK, and the US have discovered a mechanism which disables the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) molecule, says a press release by South Urals State University (SUSU).
According to the press release, the mechanism reveals an entire class of compounds that can be used for treating different ailments, including cancer and HIV.
“The importance of this discovery is that the same drugs can be used for different types of diseases,” it says.
Prof. Oleg Rakitin, one of the team scientists, explains that the compounds in question facilitate the removal of a zinc atom from the virus molecule, which renders it inactive.
The news release notes that compounds discovered in the wake of this discovery turned out to be highly effective, but not poisonous to the host organism.
“From the very beginning, we considered anti-cancer effect of this drug class to be our priority,” Rakitin said. “But suddenly it turned out that these compounds also display high and selective activity against feline immunodeficiency virus, which is the closest analog to human virus.”
The scientists underscore that this effect has been discovered for the first time and that research will continue to determine what other diseases of a similar nature can be treated.
The HIV virus facilitates the progressive failure of the human immune system, allowing for other diseases to thrive within an infected body. The average life expectancy of an infected human is estimated at 9 to 11 years, according to UNAIDS data. According to the agency, there are 37.9 million people currently living with HIV, with 1.7 million newly infected in 2018. New infections are on decline since 1998 and AIDS-related deaths are on the decline since 2004. UNAIDS seeks to eradicate the disease entirely by 2030.