NIST launches HIV database

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Officials from the National Institute of Standards and Technology have unveiled a new online database that could help AIDS researchers develop drug treatments and study HIV, the virus that causes the disease.

The HIV Structural Reference Database ( will contain information about AIDS-related protein structures. It will be a central place to collect, annotate, archive and disseminate structural data for proteins involved in making HIV and molecules that inhibit these activities. Before the database's creation, most of the information wasn't available because it was unpublished.

That makes the database different from other structural resources, such as the Protein Data Bank (PDB), which is an international repository for the processing and distribution of 3-D structure data of large molecules of proteins and nucleic acids, according to NIST's Web site.

Publishing results and displaying structural data in the PDB requires time and resources and may not advance the overall goals of the effort. Some results may not even reach the PDB or may not be available in any other form.

"Whether suitable for publication or not, structural results are unique and provide road maps in the march towards technological development and drug discovery," according to the site. "The goal of this resource was to archive and distribute structural results and associated data of HIV protease from as many sources as possible regardless whether they were published or not."

The data will be annotated with information from various sources and entries indexed so users can find the particular structures.

The database will be useful in developing strategies for inhibiting the activities of the HIV protease, which is essential for the maturation of HIV. It will also help scientists understand and avoid the problem of HIV mutations, which make it resistant to certain drugs.


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