HIV belongs to the sub group “lentiviruses” under the class retroviruses. Retroviruses are the class of viruses that contain RNA as the genetic material. Once the HIV virus infects a cell, it uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to convertits RNA into DNA and then continues replicating itself using the cell’s machinery.

The shape of HIV is spherical. The viral envelope is composed of two layers of lipids, taken from the membrane of a human cell when a newly formed virus particle buds from the cell. Throughout the viral envelope embedded are proteins from the host cell as well as several copies of complex HIV protein Env.

Recent research has determined the structure of the protein package that delivers the genetic material of the human immune deficiency virus to human virus. HIV, once after it binds to the receptors on human cells, delivers the capsid inside them. The capsid once inside the cell comes apart and releases the virus’s genetic material.

To make several copies of its genes HIV sabotages the cell machinery.  Once the new viruses are made, the genetic material is packed into immature spherical capsid through which the virus escapes from the infected cells. But prior to these newly released viruses infect the other cells, the immature capsid undergoes a dramatic rearrangement and turns into a mature, cone shaped shell. If the formation of this matured shell is disrupted, the virus is no more infectious.

Thus, if the new drugs target the capsid formation, valuable additions to the depository of existing drugs against HIV can be made.

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