Scientists managed to identify a compound in blood that prevents the HIV virus from entering human immune cells. The compound called Virus-Inhibitory Peptide or VIRIP prevents the virus from attaching a molecular anchor to the cell it is invading. The chemical has been proven effective even against strains that are resistant to other drugs and this is why the scientists are hoping that this compound could serve as the basis for an entirely new class of AIDS drugs.

New classes of AIDS drugs are needed as there are more and more multi-drug resistant viruses. Currently, no AIDS drug affects this stage of infection.

The researchers identified VIRIP by screening hundreds of proteins from human blood. VIRIP is actually a fragment of a larger protein, but it is yet not certain whether it has a function itself and how exactly it inhibits HIV. What is known is that by adding or subtracting just one of its 20 protein building blocks destroys its ability to inhibit HIV.

Today nearly 40 million people are living with HIV worldwide and researchers report that new approaches are urgently needed.