World AIDS Day: Spain makes research breakthrough in fight against HIV virus

As events take place on World AIDS Day on Sunday to highlight the global fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Spanish doctors have made an exceptional discovery that could revolutionise research. Roughly 150,000 people are infected with HIV in the European country, which has been recognised in medical journals for important contributions to the fight.

 

is also one of the most advanced in the fight against HIV.

Two months ago, José Alcamí Pertejo and his team made an exceptional discovery that could revolutionise research into the fight against AIDS. “We discovered that 50 people from one family had a genetic mutation that caused a muscular disease,” Alcamí Pertejo, a leading researcher at the National Centre of Immunology and Microbiology, said. “But which at the same time is a defect that protects them from being infected with HIV.”

The mutation affects the Transportin 3 gene, which plays a role transporting the HIV virus inside cells, as its name suggests. “If we manage to find a drug that can reproduce that blocking effect and that blocks Transportin 3, we could stop someone from being infected with the virus,” Alcamí Pertejo explained.

 A major breakthrough, even though it is likely to take a decade before it leads to a drug or a genetic therapy. In the meantime, Spain is launching its 31st prevention campaign to combat the spread of HIV.

Click on the player above to watch our special report by Anaïs Guérard and Sarah Morris.