Portuguese scientist in HIV breakthrough

Portuguese scientist Carla Ribeiro has just published findings that open the way to a new revolution in the fight against HIV.

Her article in Nature magazine describes a mechanism that can make “determined human cells naturally resistant to the virus”, reports Jornal Económico.

It is a discovery that not only offers new methods to fight HIV, but also “to destroy the virus after infection”.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it will still take time to develop this knowledge.

JE explains that the “determined human cells” are the “Langerhans cells” that live in the foreskin, vagina and intestines, and which were discovered by a study group in which Ribeiro was involved nine years ago.

Since then, Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Oshimi made breakthroughs in the understanding of autophagy – the process that cells use to destroy and recycle cellular components – and it is this that spurred Ribeiro and her team to put the science together, and come up with a major blast for a virus that has been killing people for decades.

“Autophagy is activated in the Langerhans cells through the action of a restrictive factor that is functional only in this type of cell”, Ribeiro explains in her article – stressing that this ‘restrictive factor’ doesn’t work in other cells which go on to be infected by HIV.

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