Work with the XMRV virus is “potentially explosively important” says Dr. Stefan G. Sarafianos, PhD, one of the world’s leading retroviral researchers, based at the University of Missouri.
And some of the most potentially explosive work is being done in his lab.
A short time ago, Dr. Sarafianos’s team “solved the crystal structure of an important protein in the XMRV virus – the one that’s essential for viral replication – and accordingly the logical target for future antiviral therapies. That is, they have defined this protein’s intricate shape so precisely that they can now work on creating a molecule that will link into it tightly, so as to block its activity in the body.
“If we know what the lock looks like,” says Dr. Sarafianos, “we can make the key.” And indeed his lab is working to identify/develop compounds able to prevent XMRV from replicating itself, with the objective of getting “a jump on developing treatment” of any diseases the research community may find it associated with/causing, such as chronic fatigue syndrome and prostate cancer.
Even more important, the Sarafianos research team has proven its ability to make such keys.
The U of Missouri Bond Life Sciences Center team is currently involved in a collaboration with Japanese experts to develop antibodies for preventing HIV virus from entering human cells.
Specifically, the Japanese colleagues have already created an antibody that blocks the type of HIV virus typically involved in cases found in the US, Australia, Europe, and Japan. They’re now forging ahead, with a brand new $400,000-plus NIH grant, to modify the antibody so that it will block the type of HIV typical in Africa.
To read more about Dr. Sarafianos’s work, read “Unraveling the Mysterious XMRV Virus,” by Denise Henderson Vaugn, at http://bondlsc.missouri.edu/news/story/38/1