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Chimps, AIDS, And Immunity 464

Posted by Hemos
from the outlasting-it dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "Researchers at the Biomedical Primate Research Center in The Netherlands have come up with a theory as to why modern chimps don't develop AIDS and its variants. The chimps in the study were found to share a usually uniform cluster of genes in the area that controls their immune systems' defenses against disease. This lack of genetic diversity suggests that a lethal sickness attacked chimps in the distant past. The theory postulates that approximately 2 million years ago an AIDS-like epidemic wiped out a large portion of the chimpanzee population. Those that survived developed an immunity to AIDS and its variants. If this theory holds true it may explain why some humans who are repeatedly exposed to HIV don't get sick."
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Chimps, AIDS, And Immunity

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  • SIV? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maditude (473526) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:09PM (#4171481)
    Anyone know why the article doesn't mention anything about SIV (Simian "IV" instead of Human
    "IV). From what I've read in the past, they are remarkably similar...
    • by Peyna (14792)
      What about FIV? Is it related to HIV or SIV at all? I've noticed quite a few commercials on it on TV. (It's the feline version of it I guess.)
    • It does. Second section, goes a little something like this:

      This, combined with the knowledge that modern chimps are largely immune to the AIDS virus and its simian variants, pointed toward an AIDS-like disease as the culprit.

      (emphasis mine). They don't actually say SIV, but it is quite clearly what they are talking about.
  • I don't even WANT to know how those sicko scientists are trying to infect those chimps with AIDS...
  • by Carnage4Life (106069) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:09PM (#4171490) Homepage Journal
    From the Slashdot blurb:

    Those that survived developed an immunity to AIDS and its variants. If this theory holds true it may explain why some humans who are repeatedly exposed to HIV don't get sick

    What does one have to do with the other? Besides the fact that there is a quote in the article that states
    He also said there is no definitive proof linking specific genes with resistance to AIDS in either chimpanzees or humans,
    the only way this has a bearing on human immunity is if the submitter is suggesting that those humans with AIDS immunity are evolved from chimps two million years ago which seems highly unlikely.
    • I think the article means that because humans and chimpanzees have incredibly similar DNA, a minority of the human population (just like a minority of the pre-epidemic chimp population) has immunity, just like those chimps that survived.
    • You're showing a distinct ignorance of genetics. First of all, we share roughly 97% of our DNS with chimpanzees. Our immune systems are strikingly alike, and we share many characteristics. So, if there were a disease 2 million years ago that removed all but one mutation of this gene in chimps, they could, today, still be resistant. Humans can also have this gene and not be "evolved from chimps" just like we share 97% of our DNA. We just haven't had a catastrophic disease like HIC deicmate our population and concentrate this gene.
      • lol. Wow, sometimes spelling errors can be quite humorous:

        First of all, we share roughly 97% of our DNS with chimpanzees

        Actually I don't think we share any of our DNS servers with chimps, unless you count MCSEs.

        haven't had a catastrophic disease like HIC deicmate our population

        I was picturing an entire population of humans dying of HICups. *HIC*....*HIC*....*HIC*...<collapses on the floor>, "Well Billy Bob, it looks like anuther one died of that ach eye see virus."

        Sorry, I know HIV is not a laughing matter, but I found the mental picture of the 'HIC' virus quite entertaining and thought I'd share. Hmmm, maybe I shouldn't have.
      • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:39PM (#4171832) Homepage
        First of all, we share roughly 97% of our DNS with chimpanzees.

        Hey, now, that may be true, but I don't think ICANN would appreciate you categorizing them thusly.

      • First of all, we share roughly 97% of our DNS with chimpanzees.

        Even though you mean DNA, it's actually 99% (+).

        But that only shows a degree of closeness. Of course you know that we are closest to Bonobos and then they are related to Chimps then on down the line. All of these similarities in the DNA only show that we evolved from the same common ancestors. It doesn't mean we evolved from chimps themselves.

        But there is something that bothers me about your understanding about genetics. If we assume that everyone was infected with HIV, there is no reason to assume that anyone would be resistant to the disease. There is nothing that guarantees us that our DNA will make a mistake in the reproduction process(es) which will provide an advantage.

        The chances of mutation are millions to one. There are so many safeguards in place. There is also very little chance that a mutation will be in our favor. Your DNA has no way of knowning what is coming up next.

        But the proliferation of this gene was likely based on the fact that the ones without it died, mixed with the ideas of genetic drift and etc. There isn't really a chance that we also have this gene just because they do. If that were the case we would have found this years ago.

        • wrong.
          we share nearly 97% of the same DNA as Chimps. Unless the Genetics experts at MIT are wrong, which I kind of doubt.

          human DNA is 99.9% similiar to any other human.

          In fact, any two humans are closer, DNA speaking, then any two chimps.

    • ...the only way this has a bearing on human immunity is if the submitter is suggesting that those humans with AIDS immunity are evolved from chimps two million years ago which seems highly unlikely.

      It's relevant by implication only. HIV can do to humanity what the unnamed-disease did to the chimps two million years ago -- wipe out most of us except the few who have a natural genetic resitance to the virus. Then, two million years from now, someone will comment on how our "immunity genes" are very similar.

      • No HIV cannot do to humans what it did to chimps. As far as I know chimps do not know about protecting themselves from HIV and similear dieses, while many humans do.

        I know that HIV is an issue. I'm careful not to have sex with anyone at risk for HIV. (ie, only others who are also careful about partners) This isn't perfect protection; not all partners are fully honest, but my odds of HIV are extreemly low. Therefore it is likely that my genes will survive even if I don't have any of the HIV resistant ones.

        I'm not an expert on chimps, but my understanding is when a female is in heat she will mate with every male she can find (the entire tribe, subject to some rules which we don't need to get into) in a day. In that enviorment STDs will spread quickly. Any resistant genes will be a great benifit, as the rest of the population dies.

        PS, comments that I'm a geek and so I'm unlikely to pass my genes on, HIV or no are not relavent.

        • No HIV cannot do to humans what it did to chimps. As far as I know chimps do not know about protecting themselves from HIV and similar disease, while many humans do.

          The implication still stands. If not HIV, then an as-yet-unknown disease can do the same thing. What if HIV was highly infectious -- spread through casual contact or through airbourne transmission. The disease that supposedly wiped out most of the chimps might not have been transmitted sexually.

          I think you are being far too literal. I think the comparison applies to immunity in general, not specifically to HIV, although it is a colorful example.

          The Plague wiped out 1/3 of the European population. Smallpox wiped out huge numbers (not sure of exact number) of American Indians. A theoretical disease more virulent and infectious than both of those, combined with the relative inability to treat or cure it as with the HIV virus, and we could see similar genetic culling as with the chimps.

          Strep is becoming immune to our anti-biotics. We don't know how to treat West-Nile yet. Ear-infections, urinary tract infections are becoming resistant. Lots of human illnesses are becoming resistant to our treatments.

          Let's hope bio-tech research can do an end-run around evolution and beat the bacteria and virii before they beat us.

          • The Plague wiped out 1/3 of the European population. Smallpox wiped out huge numbers (not sure of exact number) of American Indians. A theoretical disease more virulent and infectious than both of those, combined with the relative inability to treat or cure it as with the HIV virus, and we could see similar genetic culling as with the chimps.

            It's quite possible for a disease to be too virulent to become a plague. What you often tend to find is that both disease causing organisms and their hosts tend to adapt to each other. It isn't in the parasite's interest to kill it's host.

            Strep is becoming immune to our anti-biotics. We don't know how to treat West-Nile yet. Ear-infections, urinary tract infections are becoming resistant. Lots of human illnesses are becoming resistant to our treatments.

            It's at least partly due to overuse of such chemicals. Hospitals can easily become breedings grounds for very tough bacteria.
        • HIV transmission may be preventable, and anyways in the scheme of things it is pretty difficult to transmit.. However, a real fullblown worldwide Ebola plague or somesuch (and the soviets manufactured metric TONS of even worse biological agents, such as Marlburg), could easily wipe out 90% of the population in most highly populated areas.
    • I think what he is saying is that some humnas may have a genetic difference that protects them from AIDS.

      Is that true? I don't know.
      Is it possible? Yes.
      Imagine an isolated tribe of humans a few thousand years ago. Imagine there being an epidemic that a few survive, the survivers have children, which have the same genetic advantage. By now, those desendents could be anywhere do to how easy it has become to travel.
  • But the theories are sound... suppose we were all wiped out from HIV/AIDS. Those with this built-in immunity might be the only ones to survive; leaving the future of humankind AIDS tolerant. Makes sense; but again, light on details means there's not much from this article to probve or disprove.
  • by Buck2 (50253) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:13PM (#4171537) Homepage
    My uncle died of AIDS (or complications thereof) just a few years before the cocktail treatments started showing efficacy in extending HIV+ person's lifespans.

    I was a little young, so I didn't realize it until much later, but this was a pretty "in your face" demonstration of how timing, in the sense of where you are in the course of human technological development can have a serious impact on your expected longevity.

    There are, of course, the obvious facts that a long, long time ago your life-expectancy would be 30 years, whereas now (depending on where you live) it might be near 80. This is a development over thousands of years, though.

    It's a bit shocking to think that if my uncle had developed his complications a few years later he might still be around today. I've always taken solace in the fact that the same could be said of my father's friends who were drafted for Vietnam, or my grandfather's friends who died in Korea, etc.

    Illnesses seem a bit "different", though. Wars are arguably preventable, illnesses kinda just happen. I'm hoping and hoping that startling achievements in fighting "natural causes" will reach some sort of threshold where we might be expected to live for a ridiculously long time. :)

    Longevity treatments, anyone?
    • by American AC in Paris (230456) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:39PM (#4171831) Homepage
      Illnesses seem a bit "different", though. Wars are arguably preventable, illnesses kinda just happen.

      Meaning absolutely no disrespect to either you or your late uncle, AIDS does not "kinda just happen"; nor, for that matter, do many other illnesses.

      The vast majority of AIDS cases stem from sexual activity and shared needles. It is conceivable that, given enough education, focus and effort, AIDS could be effectively eradicated in the span of a couple of generations with technology that is currently available. AIDS is not something that just kinda turns up in your system one fine morning; is an epidemic that can be effectively prevented with some very basic safeguards.

      Again, I say this neither to inflict pain nor insult on you and your family. Rather, I say this to combat the notion that AIDS "just kinda happens", a view that will cause more harm than comfort in the long run.

      • by Buck2 (50253) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:52PM (#4171950) Homepage
        Actually, you are probably speaking from a position that benefits from hindsight.

        If the latency period of HIV is up to ten years (which is the last I've heard of it), and if my uncle died in 1992 (which he did), then if we also give a few years of wasting away (I don't know when he first developed symptoms), then he could have been infected way back in the 70's.

        There was little to no information about HIV at the time. Think about all of the people who were infected by blood transfusions and whatnot. We only know that these things need to be checked out now. For my uncle, who probably got it from sex, and for blood transfusion victims, the disease basically "did just happen".

        The only way it could have been prevented, because the vector was unknown, and, actually the disease was practically unknown, would have been to not engage in sex. Hah.
        • You're right, and I apologize for failing to make this simple observation at the time of my post. It's such an easy mindframe to slip into, at times. The first generation of AIDS victims did indeed fall to infection seemingly out of the blue, and certainly had no way of knowingly avoiding infection.

          I posted out of frustration at the fact that the AIDS epidemic is showing every sign of spiralling out of control, and that this epidemic will be aided every step of the way by undereducation, religious agendas, poverty, politics, and ignorance.

        • Think about all of the people who were infected by blood transfusions and whatnot.

          In fact, we basically lost a whole generation of hemophiliacs, recently. A large percentage of them require intermittent blood transfusions, and nearly all of them contracted HIV before screening of blood products (overly delayed thanks to the govt). Pretty much all of them are dead now, since they contracted the disease generally before any other group did, and all died before the development of effective medical treatment.

          We have probably lost a lot of sickle cell patients to AIDS too, but they generally have a rather limited lifespan for various reasons, though that is starting to change with newer medical treatments and immunizations.

      • Somtimes AIDS does just happen. When I was in high school, the father of a really good friend of mine with AIDS. He got it through a blood transfusion.
        • "He got it through a blood transfusion."

          This is exactly the problem with winning the war against AIDS by suffocating it. People who are HIV+ or have AIDS would have to be singled out with their freedoms sucked away. It is really hard to justify doing that to somebody, like in the case of your friend's dad. He did nothing wrong. Boom, it just happened.

          This is why I don't think 'prevention' is the best cure. Personally, I hope that nano technology results in the creation of microscopic robots that can be programmed to act like antibodies. I think that'll be the ultimate cure for most disease. (please don't correct me if I'm wrong about the bots, my imagination is allowing me to look at the future a lot more brightly.)
          • by Damek (515688)
            So instead of advocating prevention, you're waiting for tiny little robots? Sure, that's rational...

            Of course prevention isn't the best cure - it's not a cure at all. It's called "prevention" for a reason.

            The fact is, very few problems like these ever have just one solution. Prevention is one strategy, and there is no reason not to persue it. Yes, if little robots are invented as a cure, I'll welcome them with open arms, but they ain't coming anytime soon, no matter what your imagination allows, and prevention is available right here and now.
            • "So instead of advocating prevention, you're waiting for tiny little robots? Sure, that's rational..."

              Not what I said. Not even close. I can see why you'd think I said that if you only skimmed my original post. Here's a tip though: When it sounds like somebody's being absurd, ask them questions instead of assuming your interpretation is correct. It's commonly known that nano tech to do something like that is decades away and we need a cure sooner than that. What I was saying was one day (decades from now) we'll have a single cure for nearly everything. Guess I should have fleshed that part out a bit.

              "Of course prevention isn't the best cure - it's not a cure at all. It's called "prevention" for a reason."

              I forgot to mention something: There used to be posters floating around that promoted safe sex by saying 'prevention is the best cure for AIDS'. It didn't occur to me that not everybody reading this may have seen that. Heck, it may not even have appeared outside of the town I live in. My mistake, understanding of that detail makes my point clearer.

              " Prevention is one strategy, and there is no reason not to persue it."

              Never said it shouldn't be pursued either. I said it's not the best way to approach it. As a matter of fact, its a very problematic way of stopping the virus.

              Yeesh, now I know why legalese was invented.
      • Apparently you are a virgin.

        Among us people that actually have sex, yes HIV does just happen. Of course you can precautions (condoms, limiting the number of partners) but if you are getting laid there is a chance that you could get it. So maybe for those of you that can't get a date its not a problem, but for the rest of us it is.

        • Nah, he/she is probably just a non-slut.

          For non-sluts, the chances of getting it are far lower than they are for others. Especially when they keep the number of their sexual partners low, and keep it in their pants long enough to determine if those partners are indeed non-sluts too.

          There's always some astronomical chance that AIDS will slip through in some blood transfusion or similar, so it's not perfect. But it does tend to help alot. Too bad it's a little too late for you to become a non-slut too, isn't it?
      • AIDS is not something that just kinda turns up in your system one fine morning; is an epidemic that can be effectively prevented with some very basic safeguards.

        Rape is a huge problem in Africa, especially in the kwa-Zulu Natal area that has been described as the 'epicenter of AIDS' now that Uganda has gotten things under control. AIDS really can just kinda turn up in your system one morning without you having any choice in the matter - for many people, it's often not as simple as wearing a condom and not sharing a needle.
      • by fmaxwell (249001) on Friday August 30, 2002 @06:07PM (#4173487) Homepage Journal
        Meaning absolutely no disrespect to either you or your late uncle, AIDS does not "kinda just happen"; nor, for that matter, do many other illnesses.

        AIDS/HIV "just happened" to many people who received blood and blood products in medical procedures. Especially hard hit were those with hemophilia. They were stricken at a horrible rate.

        Isaac Asimov's 1992 death from heart and kidney failure was a consequence of AIDS contracted from a transfusion of tainted blood during his December 1983 triple-bypass operation.

        Babies are born with it, rape victims contract it, and people getting organ transplants are infected by it.

        Let us not stigmatize everyone who is suffering with, or has died from, this horrible disease by painting with too wide a brush and categorizing the victims as drug addicts and people who engage in unsafe sex.
    • I think in the intermediately distant future we'll reach a point with nanomedicine where doctors can have such a fine degree of control over red blood cell-sized machines that it will effectively wipe out all disease.

      If they could be made even smaller, they could be used to extend telomeres (sp?) on chromosomes, so that aging could effectively be halted.

      Put enough of these in one's bloodstream, load them up with a few communal behaviors (CLOT@DISMEMBERMENT), and a human being could be made pretty damn near immortal.

      The only real problems then would be disorders we truly didn't understand, and thus a fine degree of control would be irrelevant.

      Proviso: I'm a geek, not a doctor. Commence the hole-punching in these ideas...

      • Cool ideas.

        But you are overlooking one of the safeguard effects of mortality.

        Until now, no matter how evil a person(s) is, they will die someday. Unfortunately the decent ones need to die too, because mortality isn't very picky. But what happens with the next Hitler, the next Stalin? Or god help us, Jeffrey Dahmer? That sounds dumb at first, but what happens when a 300 yr old serial criminal has enough practice to avoid detection no matter what?

        And it's truly shitty luck on our part, that the Hitlers and Stalins are likely to be the first to benefit from such technology.

        This is something I don't want to see happen, ever. At least not until humanity collectively learns how not to be such shitheads.
    • Life expectancy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TFloore (27278) on Friday August 30, 2002 @03:18PM (#4172197)
      Learn something about how statistics are collected and how to apply them.

      I don't dispute your basic statement that average life expectancy 200-300 years ago was about 30 years. However, you need to look at what that number means.

      200-300 years ago a *lot* of people died of childhood diseases. Once you made it past about age 15, you had a reasonable chance of living to see 50, and 70 wasn't completely unreasonable for the non-poor.

      The "average life expectancy of 30 years" combined with "most people that live past 18 live to see 50" means that a good third of all people never lived through childhood, and most of these died before age 9.

      A large percentage of women died in childbirth also. (It's amazing how that percentage dropped drastically when doctors simply started washing their hands.)

      When 1/3 of your population lives to average 5, and 1/3 of your population lives to average about 35 (those childbirth deaths for women pull their average down) and 1/3 of the population lives to about 55...

      Gives you an average life expectancy of about 30.

      But if you lived to see 15, you had a reasonable chance of living to see 50 and beyond.

      We haven't really done too much to extend life. Our average life expectancy has gone up so drastically in the last 100 years because we have beaten most childhood diseases, and reduced the childbirth-related deaths in women.

      Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

      It's not so much that I object to people lying with statistics... just be aware when you are doing it, okay? :)
      • If only we had made the doctors of 300 years ago vote in the hand washing polls on slashdot, we could've exposed them for the dirty buggers that they were and saved many lives.
      • Learn something about how statistics are collected and how to apply them.

        Oh, c'mon. You have information to share, no need to be a jerk about it.

        I'm sorry that I didn't encapsulate everything in such a form that it couldn't possibly be misinterpreted. Sometimes you have to cut your losses about how much information someone wants to wade through. All I was trying to say is that when we were cavemen, it's doubtful that a person would live to be 80. Now it's the expected age of demise.

        I say this:

        E{age_of_death;-10000 bc} = 30 years
        E{age_of_death;2002 ad} = 80 years

        conclusion: I'm glad I'm living now as opposed to then.

        You respond ... "But, AHAH there were a lot of people that died really early in -10000 bc therefore your statistics are TOTALLY misleading and must be clarified with a statement telling you to learn something about statistics. Here let me talk about what's glossed over for a while."

        Oookaay, let's look at it another way. Let's say that E{age_of_death} is a damn misleading statistic, and that just looking at some sort of probability function for age_of_death is more useful. According to what you said:

        old times function: starts high, ends low
        new times function: starts a little lower, end low ... more uniform, if you will

        conclusion: It's better to be born now.

        More complicated, yet better statistics, and I don't feel it gets the point across in as straightforward a fashion. :P

        Now, YOU remember, in order to calculate the efficacy of a message, you need to maximize over an operation like E{confusion*specifity}, where confusion and specifity are usually at odds with each other, but actually have many local minima.

        I just made that up. :)
    • Location has a pretty big effect as well. My nephew died of AIDS last year at the age of 25. He was probably infected for several years without knowing. He only found out when his one-year-old son died, in fact. Unfortunately where he lives (El Salvador) there is (virtually) no treatment (or education) available. If he had been born in the States or Europe, he would undoubtably be alive today.

    • (* I'm hoping and hoping that startling achievements in fighting "natural causes" will reach some sort of threshold where we might be expected to live for a ridiculously long time. *)

      Not likely. It appears now that the body is simply battling entropy. Mutational errors continually accumulate up over time and eventually become cancer or other problems. The only medium-term solutions seem to be to slow down metabolism, but this buys you only so much time. Many age-related problems tend to be caused by slower metabolism anyhow, as the body naturally slows down to reduce cancer risks, it is theorized.

      Maybe some kind of nano-probes that scan and clean mutations is a possible distant solution. The flip side is that it could also make a "handy" terrorism tool.

      Just think, McCafee might be in the cell-scan biz one day.
  • the poster got this part wrong. it is an unusually uniform cluster. from the article : "Chimps show more genetic variation than humans in all areas - with this one exception, which is seriously condensed," said Dr. Ronald Bontrop, who led a Dutch team that worked with statisticians from the University of California.
    • I wonder though which humans they test for genetic variation?

      For example, the peoples of Africa are arguably the oldest humans on the Earth sharing the most DNA with our early relatives.

      But they are also the most genetically diverse. Many people over look this, and I'd put my money on a favorable mutation against AIDS comming from that part of the world.

      Not, of course, because your DNA says "oh AIDS! we must change". But because the selection would go for this type of mutation.

      It's a mutation if it's harmful or doesn't do anything, it's a gene if we like it :)

  • Rather simple (Score:5, Informative)

    by praedor (218403) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:16PM (#4171572) Homepage

    It is actually rather simple why certain people can be repeatedly exposed to HIV and not become productively infected. HIV requires its target cells have two cell surface proteins in order to infect it. One is the basic CD4 T cell receptor. The other is one of two different types of chemokine receptor. There is the CXCR4 and CCR5 receptors. The names derive from a common amino acid motif found in these receptors in most people: for CXCR4 it is cysteine-any amino-cysteine-arginine. For CCR5 it is cysteine-cysteine-arginine. Most of the people who appear immune to the infection contain a mutation in the CCR5 receptor (I'm not familiar with the CXCR4 receptor vis a vis mutations and infection resistance). Thus, HIV can bind to CD4 but because of the mutation in CCR5 it cannot complete the process and fuse with the cell. No fusion, no infection.


    This common form of resistance doesn't require any cluster of genes nor any mysterious genetic variation or evolutionary alteration.

    • Let me get this straight....

      That CCR5 is like the 'cells' sendmail?! Hot DAMN!

      Btw, can you give me the DNA diff so I can patch it? Thanks ;P
    • Re:Rather simple (Score:2, Informative)

      by Lurkingrue (521019)
      This paper sorta contradicts what I'd been hearing about simian models for HIV transmission. I'd understood that infection & incorporation of the retroviral sequences into the host genome takes place, but CD4 cell apoptosis is somehow avoided. nb: Dalgleish, O'Byrne: AdvCanRes 84:231-76 (2002) [nih.gov]

      Virology is admittedly not my area of research, but I'd think that there seem to be two divergent opinions here on simian resistance. Anyone here working in the area care to explain the (seeming) contradiction?
  • by broken.data (603253) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:17PM (#4171580)
    I completely misread the last line as why some humans who are repeatedly exposed to HIV don't get sex. We are talking about code-monkeys, right?
  • Some other species have been through a near-extinction event, and come out with very little genetic diversity. Cheetahs, for example. It's not clear what that means, but it's been seen before.
  • by broken_down_programm (597416) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:25PM (#4171671)
    "Those that survived developed an immunity to AIDS and its variants. " ...Uh, IANA genetecist, but I THINK the way it works is that those that ALREADY had the peculiar genetic combination that would equip them to survive SIV where the ones that SURVIVED. Through their offspring this combination came to prevail in the population today...
  • by Liora (565268) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:25PM (#4171679) Journal

    The end quote of the article says If the theory of an ancient chimp epidemic would hold true for humans, he said, "the implications are pretty scary."

    Just how are the implications pretty scary? Chimps weren't doing anything to stop the spread of the disease, we are. We're educating people and trying to encourage safer practices. The chimps who were almost wiped out didn't have a 7th grade health class where they learned that condoms can significantly lower their risks of contracting SIV. We do. The places where HIV has become an epidemic are the ones where there aren't such classes. They need them.

  • I worked at the NCI (Score:2, Informative)

    by muyThaiBxr (141607)
    About 5 years ago I worked at the National Cancer Institute, which is part of the NIH in the US. (Ft Detrick, Frederick, MD if you wanted to know) While I was there, my boss, (I was a labtech) did some analysis, and found out that a gene called CCR5 could be in people with a 32 base pair deletion. When this deletion was present from both the mother's chromosome and the father's, the person with the mutated form of the gene was basically immune to HIV even through repeated exposures. This was about 5 or 6 years ago, so I'd say OLD NEWS!
  • I say we trade the language [bbc.co.uk] gene [nature.com] for their AIDS immunity gene.

    It would be beneficial to both species. Well, the language gene is arguably more trouble than it's worth, but these monkeys are dumb and will probably fall for it if we throw in a few extra bananas to sweeten the deal.

  • best estimates are 4-7 million years ago, our ancestors split off from the ancestors of modern apes.


    2 million years ago, something happening to the ancestor of modern Chimpanzee isn't going to affect us, unless our ancestors were also involved.


    duh! i wish these people would do more research before making such crap as 'it may explain why some humans who are repeatedly exposed to HIV don't get sick.'

    • You're missing the point. The original paper states that chimps have a very specific (and uncharacteristic) loss of genetic variability in a area that controls a portion of the chimps' immune responses. This loss of variability affects the precise mechanism that HIV uses to infect humans.

      The group posits that, because you have a very specific loss of variability in an area that controls the molecules HIV & similar retroviruses use for infection, and chimps are immune to these viruses, there may originally have been a varied population of chimps (like humans) that were culled down to a very small population that had immunity (and this current, limited genetic make-up).
  • by theCat (36907) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:39PM (#4171833) Journal
    That's what Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould called it. Basically, evolution by totally getting your ass kicked. No, it doesn't really apply to humans, we're outside the flow of evolution for all practical purposes. We evolve via understanding, not genetics.
    • Yes, it does apply to humans.

      I've heard this debated millions of times. But what people fail to realize is that our "understanding" may actually cause us to get our "asses kicked".

      There is nothing that will throw us out of the evolutionary loop. In fact, the damage we do to our environment maybe one thing which wipes us out. We can't survive on "understanding" alone.

      Maybe you would like to explain how the people of Africa are the most genetically diverse peoples of the planet? Maybe you would like to explain sickle-cell anemia. That is one adaption which, although it causes a trade off, helps save lives. Please tell me how understanding will beat malaria.

      See, for example if we killed off "all" the mosquitoes they will only come back because some simply won't die. DDT spraying made the population diminish, but some were not susceptable to the toxin. So in fact, our "understanding" made it worse.

      While we try to fight AIDS through education, a mutation would be the only real way to eliminate the threat.

      Basically: We have sexual reproduction, we have genes, we do have mutations.

      Think about it: Even though some "freaks" reproduce, not all do.

  • There are similar theories [bbc.co.uk] that indicate why Africa seems to be hit much harder by AIDS than European countries.

    When the "black death" hit Europe, it killed as much as 1/3 of the population. The survivors likely had a genetic advantage that helped them survive. This same genetic resistance which was an advantage 700 years ago appears to be valuable today. Sub-saharan Africa did not suffer the same rampant spread of the plague, and thus those genes were less likely to be preserved in the general population.
  • by ArcSecond (534786) on Friday August 30, 2002 @02:48PM (#4171924)
    Two questions:

    How many strains of HIV are there (or that we know about), and what differences are there in their vectors, mechanisms, and effects?

    Secondly, has there been any evidence that once infected with one strain, that there is a resistance to a new one? For example, if a Chimp is infected with SIV, is it less likely to become infected with HIV (or vice versa)?

    Just wondering if any evidence has cropped up to suggest there is promise in William Gibson's "benign HIV+" idea (I think it was in Virtual Light).
    • I'm not a biochemist, but I can answer the second one: Sometimes. Gene mutations are belived to be random. The chimp doesn't have a SIV specific gene, it has a gene that causes certian types of protiens. The protien then allows certian immunities. It might happen that the gene only affects SIV, more likely it affects several things, which might or might not include HIV.

      One of the early vacinations for small pox was bassed on cow pox, once infected by cow pox you were immune to small pox. So yes, one infection can make you resistant to a different one. However there are many different viriues. Most people get the flu every year, and each time they get one strain they become resistant to that and several other, however appearently not the one that strikes the next year.

      There are too many random factors in immunities and genetics to really answer your second question, but I tried.

  • of course! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Friday August 30, 2002 @03:02PM (#4172056) Homepage Journal
    If this theory holds true it may explain why some humans who are repeatedly exposed to HIV don't get sick."

    They are in fact shaved monkeys, and not people after all?
  • not scary at all (Score:4, Insightful)

    by g4dget (579145) on Friday August 30, 2002 @03:08PM (#4172121)
    If the theory of an ancient chimp epidemic would hold true for humans, he said, "the implications are pretty scary."

    I don't see anything particularly scary about it: the fact that we have the data from chimps may well let us develop better drugs.

    If the biologists are "scared" by the fact that 90% of a population may have been wiped out by a virus--well, welcome to the real world. Those things happen to real world species. Humans are particularly susceptible because of travel and high population densities, but we also have a public health system going for us.

    Note, incidentally, that infectious mononucleosis probably was also devastating for human ancestors--very lethal and very easy to transmit. Today, it is a harmless disease only because of an odd quirk of the virus and the human immune system.

    • The implications are scary because several things:

      (as it's friday afternoon, I am kinda lazy to provide links, but all should be found on the web here or another)

      1) HIV is spreading, and doing so at a faster rate than before. Partly it's because of people are getting the idea that the "cocktail treatment" has effect -- but the truth is that it's not nearly that effective for the amount of casual sex people tend to want to carry.

      2) HIV mutates faster than we can come up with drugs for them. some strains, in fact, was resistant / became resistant (through mutation, presumably) even before a vaccine / treatment was made into mass production

      3) many leads for possible cure has turned out to be dead-ends. I am sure many have heard about the people (select few, 5% or so?) who contract HIV but does not actually exhibit the symptoms of AIDS for a long time (15-20 years) -- Eventually it turns out that these are people who simply had a combination of good immune system and a "weak" strain of HIV. they eventually got AIDS.

      4) vaccination requires a response from the immune system toward an agent (mutated, harmless version of HIV, for example) -- however this response we want to elicit from the immune system is *not a natural one*, meaning that it is not one that occurs, or have been observerd to occur (through much searching, as you could imagine) natually, and worse yet, *MAY NOT EXIST*.

      there are a couple others; but unless much more breakthrough level results are obtained, soon, the AIDS epidemic will become a catastrophic event that will have no less impact on the world today as the Black Plague had in times past.
  • There is no human population more than 35% infected. The other 65% aren't all virgins. Some plagues in the past have had more than 35% morbidity.
  • There was an article earlier today, and one earlier this week, with the word 'evolution' in the title. This brought the creationist cranks out of the woodwork. I really worry about slashdot, do I really want to be here if that this kind of moron is here?

    It seems to be a US-only phenomonum. Here in England most people don't care about that Bible crap.

    SO the lesson is: don't mention the e-word and the trolls won't bite.
  • 50,000 monkeys at 50,000 typewriters can't be wrong.

I tell them to turn to the study of mathematics, for it is only there that they might escape the lusts of the flesh. -- Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain"

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