Today’s Spotlight features an animation by Christine Daniloff/MIT with figures courtesy of the researchers.
Fifteen years ago, MIT professor John Essigmann and colleagues from the University of Washington had a novel idea for an HIV drug. They thought if they could induce the virus to mutate uncontrollably, they could force it to weaken and eventually die out — a strategy that our immune system uses against many viruses.
The researchers developed such a drug, which caused HIV to mutate at an enhanced rate, as expected. But it did not eliminate the virus from patients in a small clinical trial reported in 2011. In a new study, however, Essigmann and colleagues have determined the mechanism behind the drug’s action, which they believe could help them develop better versions that would destroy the virus more quickly.
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