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Sudhir Paul finds HIV's Achilles Heel

August 11, 2008 15:25 IST

Sudhir Paul of the University of Texas-Houston Medical School and his team may have found a way to attack the weakest link in HIV.

According to a paper in the journal Autoimmune Reviews, the team has found an unchanging part of the virus.

Paul, director of the Chemical Immunology Research Center at the university, says HIV needs a complex solution because it mutates so fast. Which was why Paul and his team went about hunting for a part of the HIV that does not change. They found it and found a chemical that could destroy it.

 "We call it the Achilles Heel," says Paul, adding that even if it is attacked, it manages to make the attacking cell commit suicide. Finding a vulnerable part of HIV is essential for making a vaccine.

Paul earned his PhD in biochemistry at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi in 1981. He did post-doctoral work, also in biochemistry at the University of Kiel. He worked at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Nebraska before joining the University of Texas in 1998. And in 1989, his team discovered catalytic antibodies to proteins.

Now he and his current team are trying to find ways to deal with HIV worldwide.

"If India and Africa are going to solve the HIV problem, it is going be through a vaccine, he says, "We are hot on the trail of that vaccine."


A Correspondent in New York