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November 20, 2010

Discovery in how HIV thwarts the body's natural defense opens up new target for drug therapies

EurekAlert!: "Natural killer cells are major weapons in the body's immune system. They keep the body healthy by knocking off tumors and cells infected with viruses, bombarding them with tiny lethal pellets. But natural killer cells are powerless against HIV, a fact that has bedeviled science for over 20 years.

"Now, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have discovered the reason why.

"The study, posted online this week in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Cell Host & Microbe, marks the 'beginning of a fascinating story that will shed new light on an important but still poorly understood aspect of the interaction of HIV with natural killer cells,' according to an editorial in the journal.

"'With this information, we now have a major new target for drug therapies that could potentially stop HIV and allow the body's natural killer cells to do what they are designed to do – protect the body from this lethal virus,' said Edward Barker, PhD, associate professor of immunology and microbiology at Rush University and lead author of the study."

Note: Also see

Note: Full text of original technical article,

Comment: On natural killer cells, also see