Inhibiting ITK in vitro and in mice prevented viral infection but maintained other antiviral activity, according to PNAS paper.

Researchers found that inhibiting a protein that activates T cells, interleukin-2-inducible T-cell kinase (ITK), prevented HIV infection of T cells but allowed these cells to ward off other viruses.

The scientists used a chemical inhibitor and RNAi to inactivate ITK in human T cells. They found that this suppression reduced HIV’s ability to enter T cells and have its genetic material transcribed into new virus particles.

ITK suppression, however, did not interfere significantly with T cells’ normal ability to survive, and mice deficient in ITK were able to ward off other types of viral infection, although antiviral responses were delayed.

The investigators involved in the study came from the NHGRI, NIDDK, Pennsylvania State University, and Boston University School of Medicine. The findings were published on April 28 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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