Mike German, Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry
"Evaluating Deoxyribozymes as a Novel Antiretroviral Theraphy in HIV-1"
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Daniele Fabris
Expected Graduation Date: Spring 2009
Due to the rapid emergence of strains that are resistant to one or more of the active agents used in typical multidrug regimens targeting the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), it is necessary to explore the development of novel antiretroviral therapies. As such, we aim to evaluate deoxyribozymes (DZs) as possible therapeutic agents targeting specific, highly conserved domains of the 5’- untranslated region of the HIV-1 genome, such as the packaging signal (Y-RNA) and transactivation response element (TAR), which each play crucial roles during the viral life-cycle. DZs provide substantially more attractive candidates for antiviral applications as compared to their ribozyme counterparts due to their superior chemical stability, lower potential toxicity, and improved catalytic efficiency. While in principle viral infections of any kind might be treated with nucleic acid enzymes designed to cleave essential mRNAs, those viruses that carry an RNA genome, such as HIV-1, appear to be the most promising targets.