Scientists studying just how the HIV virus transfers itself from male to female have located a new pathway -- through the healthy genetic skin of the female partner, according to a HealthDay News story today.
The findings, from a team of researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, are to be discussed at the American Society for Cell Biology's annual meeting in San Francisco today.
From the story:
"It's long been believed that the normal lining of the vaginal tract was an effective barrier to HIV during sexual intercourse, because the large HIV virus couldn't penetrate the tissue. But the ... researchers found that HIV can penetrate normal, healthy genital tissue to a depth where it can get to immune cells and infect them." That can happen in just four hours, the report says.
"This is an unexpected and important result. We have a new understanding of how HIV can invade the female genital tract," principal investigator Thomas Hope, a professor of cell and molecular biology, said in a university news release.
The results could help in the development of microbicides (a topical compound or antibiotic that destroys microbes) and vaccines to protect women against HIV.
Here's the entire story:
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