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Viruses are evolutionary wiseguys; they have devised elaborate weapons that allow them to sneak past immune system defenses. But a team at King's College, London, has shown that in the case of HIV-1 infection, some human T cells are not completely vulnerable to an HIV-1 viral attack. Michael Malim and colleagues have found a human gene, CEM15, whose product actually inhibits HIV-1 infection and may eventually provide a potential new target for drug therapy.1 Yet, the wiseguy mien has not completely disappeared: While the protein encoded by the newly discovered gene normally protects certain T cells against HIV-1 infection, its antithesis, Vif (viral infectivity factor), overcomes CEM15 and establishes the disease.

"This is the first intracellular gene product that I know of," says John Moore, professor of...

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