A group of scientists in Spain have discovered that people who have a genetic anomaly that causes a particular kind of muscular dystrophy are immune from infection by the HIV virus.
Twenty three members of a family that share a common ancestor from southern Spain were recruited for the study, all of whom have the same kind of muscular dystrophy.
This particular kind of muscular dystrophy is caused by a deletion in the long arm of one of these people’s chromosomes which compromises the TNPO3 gene.
The scientists tried to infect blood samples from these patients with the HIV virus, but their lymphocytes resisted the virus.
“This helps us to understand much better the transport of the virus in the cell,” explained José Alcami, a virologist at the Institute of Health Carlos III in Madrid that conducted the research, published in the American magazine PLOS Pathogens.
It is possible that this discovery may one day contribute to improved treatments for HIV.