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Hepatitis May Be Ally Against HIV

A part of one of the proteins of the Hepatitis C virus shows anti-HIV activity in cell cultures. Cynthia Graber reports.

Podcast Transcript: The disease hepatitis C might provide a new tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS, say scientists at the Scripps Institute and in the Netherlands. The research was published March 31st online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
 
A segment of one of the proteins of the hepatitis C virus is called C5A.  Ironically, this segment, or peptide, actually actually is deadly to the hepatitis virus.  So scientists wondered if it could kill the HIV virus as well. They found that in cell cultures, C5A did indeed damage HIV. It also interfered with HIV’s ability to infect cells such as the immune system’s T cells. And C5A properties are in effect at low pH,  which is important if any therapy based on it were to be used by women before sex.
 
The researchers say that C5A has a wider range of anti-viral activity than other antimicrobial peptides. Scientists hope that the Hep C peptide research will lead to the development of antiviral therapies that could help prevent the sexual transmission of HIV.

—Cynthia Graber

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