GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) - Swiss university researchers have reproduced a gene structure found in a South American monkey that could act against the AIDS virus, according to a study published yesterday.
This discovery could pave the way to a new treatment against AIDS, University of Geneva researchers said in the study published in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
Discovered in 2004 in owl monkeys by a group of scientists at New York's Columbia University, the gene brings about the production of a protein that has shown resistance against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The team of Geneva University researchers have now managed to reproduce this gene artificially, after having discovered that it corresponded to a fusion of two human genes.
In the research, the team kept the new fusion gene alive in human blood cells and also successfully transplanted it in a mouse that demonstrated the same immunity characteristics as in a human.
The reproduced gene had the same effects against the virus as the original gene found in the owl monkey, the team observed.
"The gene that we have made could be used as an alternative for drugs... that some people don't support," said Jeremy Luban, the professor leading the team of researchers.
"The gene could be used as a gene therapeutic against the HIV... and could be transplanted in a person with HIV," Luban told AFP.
Luban, who also led the Columbia University team that first discovered the gene in 2004, said he is now investigating how the gene blocks the AIDS virus.