Researchers in China said that they’ve made a huge breakthrough in the structural analysis of the viral infectivity factor (Vif) of the HIV virus and that the discovery will help in the development of new medications to treat, and possibly cure, HIV-positive patients.
The research was published on Wednesday in an online science journal called “Nature”. The team of researchers was led by Huang Zhiwei with the School of Life Science and Technology at Harbin Institute of Technology.
The research reveals the structural analysis of HIV-1 protein Vif, whose role is to subvert antiviral activity.
The results lay a foundation for the design of novel anti-HIV drugs, the paper said. The Chinese team launched the research program in March 2012.
Ever since the AIDS virus was discovered in 1981, people have had insufficient knowledge of the virus itself, including the structure of Vif, which is extremely important to virus infection and replication, said Huang.
Analyzing Vif structure is vital to the design of AIDS treatment medicines, Huang added.
Huang said that experts out of China have been the first to provide such groundbreaking research on the subject. His team is now working with drug producers to develop new types of medications for treating AIDS patients and HIV-positive patients.
“After medicine development succeeds, it will break a new path for treating AIDS worldwide, even hopefully curing it,” said Huang.
Over 434,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV or AIDS in China (although it’s debated, many experts believe the government’s figures aren’t representative of the actual number of cases). In April 2013, it was reported that the number of HIV-positive young people has increasing drastically. There are an estimated 7,000 people of student-age who are HIV-positive.
In 2011, experts with the Public Health Center revealed that Shanghai has also seen a huge increase in AIDS cases within recent years.