The New York Times Science Times reported on a new study of HIV proteins published in Science this week. I have not read the study, but it sounds interesting. [Science charges an arm and a leg for on-line access- this makes me so mad!]. The authors call this type of study a "functional genomic screen."
From what I can tell, the research team used bits of RNA that they call Short-Interfering RNAs (SiRNAs) to interrupt immune cell function. They added different SiRNAs to healthy immune cells, in thousands of small plastic laboratory wells. Next, they added HIV to the mixture. If the HIV could not replicate within the SiRNA-modified cells, they concluded that the SiRNA interrupted the function of a vital protein that HIV needs in order to function. They called these proteins HDFs, or "High Dependency Factors." The NYT cartoon helps explain the study.
Hopefully, further work will help determine how the HDFs help HIV live in human cells. Once they understand this better, pharmaceutical companies can develop better drugs. Luckily, I have a dad who knows proteins like I know Tusker beers. Dad will explain all of this in detail. More to follow after I hear from him