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Team picks apart structure of HIV’s shell

The first description of the 4-million-atom structure of the HIV’s capsid, or protein shell, could lead to new ways to fight the virus. The findings are highlighted on the cover of the May 30 issue of Nature.

“The capsid is critically important for HIV replication, so knowing its structure in detail could lead us to new drugs that can treat or prevent the infection,” says senior author Peijun Zhang, associate professor of structural biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “This approach has the potential to be a powerful alternative to our current HIV therapies, which work by targeting certain enzymes, but drug resistance is an enormous challenge due to the virus’ high mutation rate.”

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