Scientists report breakthrough in HIV treatment

In a significant breakthrough that could help deliver better treatments to fight HIV, US and British scientists claim to have grown a crystal that helped them unravel the structure of an enzyme called integrase, found in retroviruses like HIV.

Integrase plays a key role in propagation of the disease in patients.

The researchers from Imperial College London and Harvard University have successfully grown the crystal that allows them to determine the structure of the integrase that pastes a copy of HIV genetic code into the DNA of an infected person.

Though antiretroviral drugs act by blocking integrase in HIV, the crystal that helped the researchers uncover the structure, was grown from a version of the enzyme from a retrovirus called Prototype Foamy Virus (PFV).

According to Dr Peter Cherepanov, the lead author of the study, the findings are ''amazing''. He added that though the work was initially painstakingly slow, the team did not give up and their perseverance was finally rewarded.

The team conducted over 40,000 trials before they were ale to find a suitable crystal.