Monkeys are able to express a gene for a protein called retrocyclin, which inhibits HIV infection of their cells. Humans have the same gene, but it has a nonsense mutation: One which encodes a premature stop codon, which will undergo transcription, but prevents translation of the gene code into an active protein. Scientists in Florida, California and Georgia have found that if human cells are transfected with the correct gene sequence, they are able to produce the properly-folded protein. In addition, cells that are treated with aminoglycosides, which cause them to ignore premature stop codons, were able to inhibit infection by HIV. Since the development of an AIDs vaccine is complicated by the fast mutation rate of the virus, the authors considered whether the aminoglycosides might be used as a drug for HIV treatment. I wonder if we might someday also see a gene therapy treatment wherein the retrocyclin gene is reverse-mutated to the correct sequence, removing the premature stop codon.
Sedwick, C. 2009. Rousing a Latent Defense Mechanism to Fight HIV. PLoS Biology 7(4): e1000093. April 28, 2009. doi:10.1371\journal.pbio.1000093.
Venkataraman, N. et al. 2009. Reawakening Retrocyclins: Ancestral Human Defensins Active Against HIV-1. PLoS Biology 7(4): e1000095. April 2009. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000095.