Scientists synthesized nucleic acid molecules that prevent HIV infection


Scientists from the Federal Scientific and Clinical Center for Physical and Chemical Medicine (FNKS FKhM) synthesized nucleic acid molecules that prevent the infection of cells of the body with the HIV virus (immunodeficiency virus). Researcher of the Center Anna Varizhuk presented the results of work at the II Interdisciplinary Scientific Conference “Autoimmune and immunodeficiency diseases”. The studies are supported by a grant from the  Russian Science Foundation  (RNF), RIA Novosti reported .

Employees of the laboratory of artificial antigenogenesis of FNSC FHM are engaged in fundamental research of biochemical processes underlying the development of human diseases. Scientists analyze the mechanisms of rearrangements in the genes of bacteria and viruses (pathogens), ensuring the avoidance of the immune system.

One of the priority areas of work is the study of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Getting into the human body, HIV detects immune cells and joins their receptors (CD4) with the help of special proteins – glycoproteins. HIV glycoproteins are usually schematically depicted as spike protrusions on the spherical surface of the virus. Accession to CD4 triggers the fusion of cellular and viral membranes, which is the first stage of infection. Russian biochemists managed to develop a new aptamer, which prevents the fusion of the immunodeficiency virus with the cell.

The aptamer is a short single-stranded fragment of a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) capable of recognizing certain target molecules and connecting to them.

Single-stranded DNA and RNA can form all possible three-dimensional structures: nodes, loops, double and quadruple helixes (quadruplexes). The diversity of spatial forms, and, accordingly, of properties, makes it possible to select suitable aptameric molecules for practically any target: an inorganic compound, a protein, a peptide, a viral particle.

The DNA-aptamer, created by Russian scientists, recognizes the surface HIV glycoprotein and binds to it. A virus “blocked” by synthetic DNA can no longer interact with the CD4 receptors of the cell membrane, and infection does not occur.

Development can subsequently be used to create means of preventing HIV infection, since the aptamer is not toxic to human cells and is highly effective at the same time. “Getting the prototype of the drug is not a very distant prospect, we already have the active substance, it remains to choose a convenient dosage form.” I want to note that our colleagues from the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences played an important role in the study. preclinical and clinical trials is the key, we expect to find partners to advance our development, “concluded Anna Varizhuk.

It is worth noting that the cost of synthesis of medicines based on aptamers is several times lower than the cost of producing their protein analogues – antibodies.

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