Date of Defense

Spring 3-20-1995


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Sylvia Culp, Philosophy

Second Advisor

Leonard Ginsberg, Biology

Third Advisor

Mary Ruwart, Upjohn Company


Scientists are struggling to discover new, innovative treatments against the disease AIDS. This research is complicated by the high frequency of mutation exhibited by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the causative agent of AIDS. Current efforts towards the treatment of AIDS focus on interrupting the viral life cycle. The HIV life cycle begins when the virion (virus particle) binds to a host cell and injects its core proteins and viral RNA. The viral RNA is then copied into a single strand of DNA, which is duplicated and becomes the cellular template for transcription. Possible therapeutic approaches involve inhibition of the HIV life cycle at several fronts. Antibody and interferon therapy block the binding of gp120, slowing the spread of the virus. AZT and other dideoxynucleosides interrupt transcription of the viral RNA into DNA. HIV protease inhibition, the most recent focus for researchers disrupts the HIV life cycle during the post translational processing of proteins generated from gag and gag/pol genes. HIV protease breaks the p55 precursor protein into four smaller structural proteins. Peptidic protease inhibitors reduce the number of infected cells by limiting the virus' ability to mature and replicate, but are poorly absorbed after oral administration. Thus, current emphasis is on the better absorbed non-peptidic drugs.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only