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Name: Belinda H Boman
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My question is about the HIV virus - Is the enzyme RNA reverse transcriptase enzyme the crux of the whole problem with finding a vaccine? It seems obvious to me that all if a chemical could be developed to block RNA reverse transcriptase, without causing toxic effects on the body, then we've got the disease beat. If RNA reverse transciptase is not the answer, please specify why.
Thank you.

Yes, if a chemical could be developed WITHOUT SIDE EFFECTS, that would be a major breakthrough. But delivering it into cells is a problem. Also, a vaccine is usually considered to be something given to stimulate the immune response without causing disease to prevent infection. The AIDS virus, like many viruses, mutates so rapidly that we can't develop a vaccine for one form before another form is out there. Do you need more explanation? If so, let me know and I'll try to comply.


Belinda, your idea that reverse transcriptase is a good drug target is right on the money. In fact, the two drugs that are approved by the FDA for fighting HIV/AIDS are both inhibitors of the viral reverse transcriptase (the drugs are AZT and ddI)/. Unfortunately, drugs like this have severe side effects for the cells of the body that we are trying to protect. Lots or work if going into efforts to find new inhibitors for this enzyme, and also for other viral enzymes (especially the viral protease).

Steve J Triezenberg

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