Public Release:  A powerful new technology to identify HIV inhibitors

Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health

This release is available in German.

EASY-HIT** is a new cell-based assay system for simple and reliable testing of HIV inhibitors. This system was developed under the leadership of Professor Ruth Brack-Werner at the Institute of Virology. At the heart of the system are cultured human cells that allow HIV to enter and replicate efficiently and that signal HIV infection by producing a red fluorescent protein. The EASY-HIT technology can be used to identify HIV-inhibitors, measure the potency of their inhibitory activity and to detect the stage of replication targeted by the inhibitor.

The researchers validated their technology with a panel of currently used anti-HIV drugs and then went on to identify 5 new HIV inhibitors. They also showed that this technology can be used to detect anti-HIV activities in raw plant extracts. The researchers are currently using this system to explore numerous biological specimens for anti-HIV activities and have already discovered novel unexpected sources of antiviral activities.

Stephan Kremb, first author of the manuscript, summarizes, "We expect the versatile and robust EASY-HIT system to identify new targets against HIV and new sources of HIV-inhibitors". "Our technology has many applications in HIV research and pharmaceutical drug design", adds Ruth Brack-Werner.

HIV was first discovered in the early 1980s and described as the causative agent of AIDS. As there is no cure for HIV infection as yet, HIV-infected individuals require life-long treatment with antiviral drugs. The problems with currently available therapies include drug side-effects, the emergence of resistant viruses and the cost of long-term treatment. "It is our particularly hope that the EASY-HIT technology will promote the development of new strategies for HIV treatment in areas with limited resources", states Ruth Brack-Werner.

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Further information

*Original publication

Kremb S, Helfer M, Heller W, Hoffmann D, Wolff H, Kleinschmidt A, Cepok S, Hemmer B, Durner J, Brack-Werner R. EASY-HIT: HIV Full-Replication Technology for Broad Discovery of Multiple Classes of HIV Inhibitors. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2010 Dec;54(12):5257-68

**EASY-HIT: Exploratory Assay SYstem for the discovery of HIV InhibiTors

Figure legend: Identification of HIV inhibitors with EASY-HIT technology. (Schematic by Stephan Kremb)

Helmholtz Zentrum München is the German Research Center for Environmental Health. As leading center of Environmental Health, it focuses on chronic and complex diseases, which develop from the interaction of environmental factors and individual genetic disposition. Helmholtz Zentrum München has around 1700 staff members. The head office of the center is located in Neuherberg to the north of Munich on a 50-hectare research campus. Helmholtz Zentrum München belongs to the Helmholtz Association, Germany's largest research organization, a community of 16 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centers with a total of 30,000 staff members.

Contacts

Scientific Contact: Prof. Dr. Ruth Brack-Werner Helmholtz Zentrum München - German research Center for Environment and Health (GmbH), Institute for Virology, Ingolstädter Landstraße 1 85764 Neuherberg, Germany; Tel.: ++49-(0)89-3187-2923, E-Mail: brack@helmholtz-muenchen.de

Contact for Media Representatives: Sven Winkler, Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health, Ingolstädter Landstr. 1, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany; Phone: +49(0)89-3187-3946, Fax: +49(0)89-3187-3324, E-Mail: presse@helmholtz-muenchen.de

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