The identification of CD4 as the HIV receptor immediately triggered a search for the development of novel therapeutic agents aimed at blocking receptor binding. Initial experimental approaches to this problem failed, but led to the observation that one or more other receptors for HIV, or co-receptors, must be involved in the entry of the virus in cells. In 1996 evidence was reported of a second viral receptor, already known under several names and renamed "fusin." Shortly thereafter the CCR5 molecule was identified as a cc-receptor for the second type of HIV strain. This second discovery left no doubts: the second receptor for the virus encompassed at least two members of the chemokine receptor family. The identification of these co-receptors has led to several important new observations about HIV, including the fact that chemokines are potent in vitro inhibitors of viral replication, at least in T lymphocytes; however, there is still little information on their role lit vivo. Nevertheless, unlike chemokines, the role of chemokine receptors in vivo has already emerged as being of substantial importance. (C) 1998 Prous Science. All rights reserved.
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