Gene discovery could lead to more types of HIV treatments

Scientists have identified a gene which they say may have the ability to prevent HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, from spreading after it enters the body.

In an early-stage study in the journal Nature, researchers said the gene, called MX2, appears to play a key role in how HIV is controlled in human cells, so using it could lead to the development of new, less toxic treatments that harness the body’s natural defenses and mobilize them against the virus.

Although there are many more years of research ahead, Mike Malim, who co-led the research at King’s College London, described the finding as “extremely exciting” and said it advanced scientists’ understanding of how the HIV virus interacts with the immune system.

“Until now we knew very little about the MX2 gene, but now we recognize both its potent anti-viral function and a key point of vulnerability in the life cycle of HIV,” he said in a statement about the study, published on Wednesday.
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