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A team of McMaster University has discovered a new pathway by which the HIV virus enters the female body.
Researchers have found the virus itself manages to weaken epithelial cells (responsible for forming a barrier to prevent the entry of foreign organisms) and pass into the body.
“This is the first time it is shown that HIV directly attacks the functions of this gateway, “says Charu Laushic, professor of gene therapy and coordinator of this work, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens.”
“The discovery may be an important step when developing vaccines and micro biocides, the remaining challenges in combating the AIDS pandemic. Instead of focusing on attacking the cells where it protects HIV, which are under the epithelium, focus should be on the epithelial cells themselves, which is the first contact of the virus to the body, “says Laushic.
In the study, scientists isolated epithelial cells in the laboratory uterine tissue removed during a hysterectomy. When exposed to HIV found that, after two hours, the resistance to the virus had already decreased a little and 24 hours the pathogen had virtually ‘free rein’ to enter the genital tract, as the mucosa was broken.
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