HARBIN, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers said they have made a significant breakthrough in the structural analysis of the viral infectivity factor (Vif) of the HIV virus, which will help in the development of new medications to treat or even cure the disease.
The new research was published on the website of science journal "Nature" on Wednesday. It was carried out by a team of Chinese researchers led by Huang Zhiwei, professor of structural molecular biology with the School of Life Science and Technology at Harbin Institute of Technology.
The research reveals the structural analysis of HIV-1 protein Vif, whose role is to subvert antiviral activity.
The results lay a foundation for the design of novel anti-HIV drugs, the paper said. The Chinese team launched the research program in March 2012.
Ever since the AIDS virus was discovered in 1981, people have had insufficient knowledge of the virus itself, including the structure of Vif, which is extremely important to virus infection and replication, said Huang.
Analyzing Vif structure is vital to the design of AIDS treatment medicines, Huang added.
The study of Vif structure has been the most important subject for scientists worldwide on AIDS in recent years.
China is the first to come out with research achievements on the subject, showing it is at the forefront of structural molecular biology study in AIDS, according to Huang.
The research team has begun cooperation with drug producers to develop new types of medicines for treating AIDS, Huang told Xinhua on Thursday.
"After medicine development succeeds, it will break a new path for treating AIDS worldwide, even hopefully curing it," Huang said, adding that it will also pave the way for Chinese-made drugs to fight HIV/AIDS.
China has about 434,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, according to government statistics. Worldwide, the number reached about 35 million at the end of 2012.