A small contact with the HIV virus is enough to sicken blood cells, even those that will not actually be infected. This type of negative identity card, which can have negative effects on the lymphocytes that are supposed to fight the virus, opens the door to other treatment possibilities.
The discovery comes from a group of Italian scientists coordinated by Claudio Casoli of the “Center for Medical Research and Molecular Diagnosis Gemiblab” of Parma and by prof. Andrea Cossarizza of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, who have discovered that HIV is able to change the quality of small RNA molecules, called “Micro-RNA”, or “MIRNA”, not only in cells, who have been infected by HIV, but also those who have only been in contact with it. Mini RNAs are RNA molecules that make up about 1 percent of all genetic code and have very limited molecular sizes. For this reason, until recently, it has been very difficult to identify and study them. Currently, it is known that there are about a thousand miRNAs, which are not directly involved in protein synthesis, but regulate many cellular activities and have a major role in various neoplastic and degenerative pathologies. The joint study on the importance of miRNAs in the infection that HIV causes examined groups of different HIV+ patients, from those with acute infection to the very rare ones whose immune systems perfectly control the virus without needing for medicines. In the lymphocytes of these patients, the virus leaves a “molecular seal”.
The study, which was published in the international journal Blood (of the American Society of Hematology), identifies a new strategy used by the virus to fight the immune response and opens up new perspectives, particularly in creating new effective treatments to fight the disease. .