How can understanding the way HIV blocks the immune system be used to fight it?
When the HIV virus enters the human body, it is immediately recognized and attacked by the immune system.
Because of this, the HIV virus has to overcome many barriers in order to successfully infect the body for a prolonged period of time and develop into AIDS. In almost every case, HIV is able to overcome these barriers and defeat the human immune system. HIV is successful because the virus sends out defense chemicals that block the immune system, allowing it to multiply and infect more parts of the body. Dr. Linda Chelico and her research group are studying one of these defense chemicals produced by HIV called Vif. Vif blocks a specific attack from the immune system that would otherwise prevent HIV from multiplying. In this study, Dr. Chelico is designing drugs that stop Vif from working, in turn preventing HIV from multiplying and the HIV infection from progressing. She is then testing these drugs. In her lab, in human cells infected with HIV, to see whether they effectively stop HIV infection.