Researchers have found out how a protein called SAMHD1 can restrict the replication of HIV and halt the progression of AIDS.

The study, which has been published in the journal Nature Immunology, has revealed that how cells containing SAMHD1 protein protects the cell from viruses by destroying the pool of deoxynucleotide triphosphates (dNTPs), which are the building blocks for DNA. The researched team explained that when a virus, like HIV, infects a cell, it hijacks the cell's molecular material which is the dNTPs to replicate.

When HIV attacks the body, it weakens the immune system and thereby the body becomes more vulnerable to everyday infections. However, there are certain cells in the body like the macrophages and dendritic cells that are more resistant to such virus attacks.

The report mentioned that these cells produce the SAMHD1 protein which is required in HIV protection.

By depleting the pool of available dNTPs, SAMHD1 effectively starves the virus of a building block that is central to its replication strategy, the report said.

SAMHD1 restricted infection by hydrolyzing intracellular deoxynucleoside triphosphates (dNTPs), lowering their concentrations to below those required for the synthesis of the viral DNA by reverse transcriptase (RT).

Macrophages literally eat up dangerous organisms, and you don't want those organisms to have available the cellular machinery needed to replicate and macrophages themselves don't need it, because they don't replicate. So macrophages have SAMHD1 to get rid of the raw material those organisms need to copy themselves. It's a great host defence, the BBC quoted Prof Baek Kim, one of the researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center, as saying.

The researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and colleagues involved in the study believe that by understanding the mechanism in which the protein operates, it may be possible to get a better picture on how to stop or slow the virus's ability to spread.