Global health R&D at work in Delaware
An interdisciplinary team of researchers led by the University of Delaware has discovered a mechanism that interferes with the ability of HIV to cause harm, ultimately leading to AIDS. The results are based on years of study of the structure and dynamics of HIV throughout its life cycle. The scientists used some of the world’s largest supercomputers to simulate the virus and its many moving parts. As HIV develops, a cascade of events occurs, affecting its structure. Using state-of-the-art techniques, the researchers discovered that after the virus sheds a specific peptide, it forms its protective outer shell and becomes infectious. The anti-HIV drug bevirimat was shown to interact with this peptide and prevent development of the virus' coat. Understanding HIV’s vulnerabilities is essential to creating the next generation of antiretrovirals.