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NIAID Scientists Discover HIV Disease-Slowing Mutation

of the HIV-infected individuals in the study possessed two copies of the mutant CCR5 promoter. Since the vast majority of these individuals were Caucasians, the researchers screened random blood samples from healthy donors to get an estimate of the promoter mutation’s prevalence among the general population. They found two copies of the mutation in 32 percent of African Americans, 28 percent of Asians, 18 percent of Caucasians and 10 percent of Hispanics in the sample.

"This is the first HIV disease-modifying genetic variant found in a regulatory region of the CCR5 gene," notes Dr. McDermott. "It is extremely common, has a broad racial distribution and exerts a strong protective effect against disease progression."

In addition to providing an important new piece to the puzzle of genetic protection against HIV disease, the finding could point to new opportunities in HIV treatment research.

"The information may have a therapeutic application if methods can be developed to block specific regulatory factors at this or other sites that affect CCR5 production."

A report of the study, titled "CCR5 promoter polymorphism affects HIV-1 disease progression," was published in the Sept. 12, 1998, issue of The Lancet .


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Contact: John Bowersox
jbowersox@nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
23-Sep-1998


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