Mentors: Olivia McPherson and Angela Koehler
The drugs currently used to combat HIV infection work not by eliminating viral infection, but by preventing viral replication. One mechanism to prevent the initial infection would be to block gp120, a protein on the surface of HIV, from binding to T-cells, a type of immune cell. No drug has yet been created that will prevent the gp120 protein from binding to human T-cells.
Brian and his mentors conducted a small-molecule screen using a microarray assay to identify potential inhibitors of gp-120. The protein was added to glass slides printed with thousands of compounds, to identify those that specifically bound gp-120. The researchers identified six compounds as potential ligands and compared each compound’s three-dimensional structure. The prospects can be evaluated for their gp120-blocking ability in future studies.
Brian, a Medford High School senior, identified inhibitors of an HIV surface protein that may prevent infection with the virus.