Researchers discover ways to prevent infection of cells

MADISON, Wis. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found a way to block biological communications between cells that lead to viral infections and tumors.

In a study supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers from UW-Madison and other universities created a set of synthetic molecules that interacted with the HIV protein gp41 to prevent the infection of cells. Several viruses, including HIV, Ebola and influenza, use interactions between viral and cellular proteins to infect cells.

“There’s a lot of information transfer that occurs when proteins come together, and one would often like to block that information flow,” UW-Madison chemistry professor Samuel Gellman said in a statement.

While it remains unclear whether this method can be used to create anti-HIV drugs, Gellman said it did could potentially lead to new ways of thinking about designing antiviral drug molecules.