Weizmann Institute Researcher to Speak at HIV/AIDS Research Town Hall

 Ron Diskin, Weizmann Institute Researcher
Ron Diskin.

Dr. Ron Diskin of the Weizmann Institute of Israel will discuss the latest HIV/AIDS research at a town hall event at Congregation Kol Ami, 1200 N La Brea Ave. at Lexington, on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m.

West Hollywood will co-sponsor the event along with Kol Ami and other community organizations. The City Council voted in favor of the sponsorship at its meeting on Monday.

At the town hall, Diskin will discuss his most recent research into the structure of HIV and other viruses in order to find ways to effectively combat them, according to the city staff report.

The staff report, which calls Diskin “Israel’s foremost researcher on HIV/AIDS,” included this background information about his work:

“There is yet no vaccine for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, some

HIV-infected individuals do develop effective neutralizing antibodies to the virus.

Dr. Diskin worked with a team of biologists to characterize the neutralization mechanism of NIH45-46, one of the most potent antibodies ever isolated, and subsequently to increase its potency via structural-based rational design. These data show much promise for designing an effective AIDS vaccine, and produced one of the currently leading candidates for anti- HIV therapy.

“To improve the activity of the antibody, researchers first needed to learn more about its target site, and the structure of a key protein —gp120—found on the surface of HIV. Dr. Diskin used X-ray crystallography to give scientists their first look at the structure of the gp120 protein from a major HIV-1 subgroup, helping not only to resolve its structure, and later that of NIH45-46, but to learn more about the biology of the HIV virus.”

West Hollywood is disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS; a recent community study found that almost 7 percent of WeHo residents are living with HIV or AIDS.