Exploring RNA Aptmers As Therapeutic Agent For HIV-1
After three decades, the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) remains a global pandemic. It has been difficult to develop therapeutic agents and vaccines against HIV due partly to the virusís ability to mutate rapidly. As a result, there is a constant need to develop new therapeutic agents that target HIV-1. This research seeks to develop an RNA aptamer that would bind tightly to the Pre-Hairpin Intermediate state of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp41 to inhibit viral fusion. The project targets the envelope glycoprotein of HIV-1, gp41, with nucleic acid aptamers. Aptamers are selected from random pools (libraries) by an in vitro selection called Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment (SELEX). The aptamers go through rounds of selection, where the weak binders will be washed off in each round. Once these aptamers are developed, they will be tested for their ability to prevent viral membrane fusion, and their potential use in HIV therapeutics.