Spanish scientists have discovered a rare genetic mutation that makes people resistant to HIV, which could help lead to new HIV treatments.

Researchers from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid tested blood samples from 23 related donors who all had a type 1F limb-girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD1F). When the HIV virus was introduced into the blood samples, it did not replicate.

The Transportin 3 (TNPO3) gene is to thank. This gene is needed for HIV to spread and all the test subjects had a mutation in this gene, which physically resulted in having muscular dystrophy.

“This helps us to understand much better the transport of the virus in the cell,’ Jose Alcami, a virologist who worked on the study, told AFP. “There are mechanisms of resistance to infection that are very poorly understood.”

The study authors concluded that this genetic mutation can be used to understand how TNPO3 transports the HIV infection and could possibly aid in the design new treatment strategies, not only for HIV, but LGMD1F as well.

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