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Three-Dimensional Structure of HIV Revealed 189

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the better-understanding-certainly-can't-hurt dept.
Mutatis Mutandis writes "The BBC is reporting that a team of scientists from Oxford, Heidelberg and Munich has created the first accurate three-dimensional images of the HIV virus. The virus was found to have an average diameter of 125 nanometers, well below the wavelength of visible light. In the past the structure of viruses with a regular structure has been produced by 3D reconstruction techniques that work on a set of electron microscopy images of different viruses, but the irregular structure of HIV does not allow this. Scientists have now used a tomography technique that employs a series of images taken from a single virus, somewhat similar to the better known X-Ray CAT scan, but on a quite different scale." Structure also has a video of the 3-d rendering available for download. Relatedly an anonymous reader writes "A research team at Brown University has genetically modified bacteria found in yogurt so that the bugs produce a protein proven to block HIV infection in monkeys. The results offer hope for a microbicide that can prevent the spread of HIV, which now affects about 40 million people."
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Three-Dimensional Structure of HIV Revealed

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  • great (Score:5, Funny)

    by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:27AM (#14555400) Journal
    now every grad student taking a bioinformatics class gets a pop quiz tomorrow!
  • Monkeys?? (Score:5, Funny)

    by mattkime (8466) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:32AM (#14555420)

    the bugs produce a protein proven to block HIV infection in monkeys

    ...but what about treatment for those that don't believe in evolution?

    clearly, another example of the scientific elites pushing their liberal agenda

    • I don't think the parent is flamebaiting, I think the parent is trying to be sarcastic...

      -Jar.
    • ...but what about treatment for those that don't believe in evolution?
      They've had one for ages!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_science [wikipedia.org]
    • ...but what about treatment for those that don't believe in evolution? clearly, another example of the scientific elites pushing their liberal agenda

      We can't let these activist scientists run our lives!

  • Cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by 0racle (667029) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:33AM (#14555424)
    When can I buy the plushie?
  • I remember hearing this fringy-sounding stuff that HIV hadn't been proven to cause AIDS, and that a Nobel prize winner -- the guy who invented PCR -- was in agreement.

    One of the complaints was that nobody had bothered to isolate HIV, infect creatures, make sure they got AIDS, and so on -- the sort of things that scientists do to prove that something "causes" something.

    Among other things, there was the complaint that some people have HIV, but don't get AIDS. And others have AIDS, but no HIV.

    Does anyone know
    • by c0dedude (587568) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:46AM (#14555471)
      Yes, HIV causes AIDS. To think otherwise puts millions in danger. The idea that it does not has been rejected for years by mainstream science and is perpetuated by a self-denying HIV infected population, not by science.
      • Well what about this stuff (these guys are respectable, so WTF??): http://www.virusmyth.net/aids/controversy.htm [virusmyth.net]

        * Dr. Kary Mullis, Biochemist, 1993 Nobel Prize for Chemistry:

        "If there is evidence that HIV causes AIDS, there should be scientific documents which either singly or collectively demonstrate that fact, at least with a high probability. There is no such document." (Sunday Times (London) 28 nov. 1993)
        • by c0dedude (587568) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:10AM (#14555550)
          How many peer reviewed journals are cited above? ZERO!
          Here's an easy to read summary of the real evidence: http://www.avert.org/evidence.htm [avert.org]
          And a more detailed summary: http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/evidhiv.htm [nih.gov]

          Here are some of the proven, reviewed, science backed theories, quoted from the NIH site above:

          "AIDS and HIV infection are invariably linked in time, place and population group."

          "Many studies agree that only a single factor, HIV, predicts whether a person will develop AIDS."

          "HIV can be detected in virtually everyone with AIDS."

          "Newborn infants have no behavioral risk factors for AIDS, yet many children born to HIV-infected mothers have developed AIDS and died."

          "The HIV-infected twin develops AIDS while the uninfected twin does not."

          These are peer reviewed scientific theories. Anyone can cast doubt on them, but to do so with such little evidence is irresponsible, especially considering the gravity of the disease. No serious journal proposes that AIDS is not caused by HIV.
          • HIV can be detected in virtually everyone with AIDS.

            HIV is not the only cause of severe immune suppression.

            Starvation, for instance, can cause sufficient deterioration in the human immune system to meet the criteria of AIDS, minus the presence of HIV. This is relevant when looking at AIDS statistics from third world countries where determinations are made based on symptoms rather than viral load or antibiody reactivity.
        • ummm... I'm looking at a bunch of quotes that are 8 years old or older. The relationship between HIV and AIDS has been demonstrated in a minor amount of cases (see here [nih.gov].

          Some people never show symptoms of HIV infection, some develop full blown AIDS and die shortly after. But, the few cases that do tie HIV and AIDS together have pretty much convinced many scientists that HIV and AIDS have some sort of real link.
        • Most of the quoted statements are more than 10 years old. None is less than 5 years old.

          I'd say that it is a fairly safe assumption that HIV is one of the most important factors in AIDS. Maybe not the only one though.

          Saying that HIV does not cause HIV is borderline criminal.
        • May I point out that none of these is newer than 2000? There can be two reasons though:

          1) Anybody making any argument against this simply gets ridiculed out of the medical field
          2) Nobody is convinced that HIV doesn't cause it.

          The scary part is that there is/was a fair amount of evidence that HIV may not the sole cause of AIDS, as in many countries, the determination of who had AIDS wasn't based on the presense of HIV, but of the immune effects itself. There could be many other causes of "AIDS" as determ
          • "The scary part is that there is/was a fair amount of evidence that HIV may not the sole cause of AIDS, as in many countries, the determination of who had AIDS wasn't based on the presense of HIV, but of the immune effects itself. "

            I think you may have reversed cause and effect here. In many countries it is difficult to test each person for HIV so they go off the symptoms instead. Unfortunately, AIDS can manifest in many ways some of which look just like other diseases. If there is any incentive (not sa
        • Bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

          by Stickerboy (61554) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:40AM (#14555643) Homepage

          Look, all these guys have at one time or another been respectable, but the truth is, HIV is a well-characterized virus with dumptrucks full of money poured into research into how and why it works.

          The fact that I can pick out one name, Harvey Bialy, google him and find out he's currently on South Africa's payroll (who deny pregnant mothers with AIDS AZT or other basic anti-HIV drugs, btw) says volumes.

          HIV's genome has been sequenced and studied, and scientists know in general how it works. Instead of copying and pasting one of my microbiology textbooks, I'd suggest looking up the "HIV" Wikipedia entry - it's got a good summary of the parts listed. You might try the "AIDS reappraisal" entry, where all the bullshit claims are addressed.

          Have you taken a look at what all those "respected scientists" are actually saying? It sounds a lot like the utter crap being spewed by the "respectable scientists" employed by the Creationism... er, I mean the Intelligent Design idiots. "There's problems... there's questions..." Not a single decent counter-hypothesis as to the origin of AIDS or why the volumes of peer-reviewed AIDS research is WRONG.

          If they were truly so adamant that HIV did not cause AIDS, there would be a simple way to prove it once and for all: they should all get together and perform a witnessed scientific study whereby they all inject a reasonably large dose of HIV virus into their bloodstreams and monitor the results. Dr. Barry Marshall, in fact, won a Nobel Prize for proving that H. pylori causes GI ulcers by doing just that.

          Now to answer your original claims, that some people with HIV do not get AIDS and some people with AIDS do not have HIV, both of them have answers (the Wikipedia page, in fact, covers the 1st one). Some people have genetic mutations to coreceptors that HIV needs to infect CD4+ T-cells (CCR5 and CXCR4 being the 2 most common). Those mutations render the virus unable to infect the cells without further mutation of the virus. This is, in fact, a huge avenue of biomedical research - my medical school is participating in toxicology trials for a proposed drug using this.

          The other claim, that some patients with AIDS do not have HIV is a very rare autoimmune condition. Through molecular mimicry or another similar means, a patient's CD4+ immune cells are targeted for destruction by the patient's own immune system, which leads to the loss of those cells and the development of AIDS. Nobody knows why yet (this is VERY rare), but it probably is caused by cross-reaction with similar antigens from a foreign source (bacteria, virus, fungal, etc.). The body has a bad propensity to attack itself - look up rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Goodpasture's, Hashimoto's, or late-stage Lyme Disease among others.

          • Speaking of dumptrucks full of money, I still don't understand why are so many resourses being poured into HIV/AIDS research? I would think all that money could go into educating people and focusing on prevention. AIDS seems to be a completely preventable disease -- all that needs to change is sexual behavior and blood transfusion methods. It is not a disease that someone gets from shaking hands or riding on a bus with others, or eating contaminated food, not even by being bitten by insects. In other words
            • I would think all that money could go into educating people and focusing on prevention. AIDS seems to be a completely preventable disease -- all that needs to change is sexual behavior and blood transfusion methods.

              Let's be honest here: while prevention is a laudable method, do you really think a public awareness program is going to much of an impact on human sexual behavior? Yes, we need better blood transfusion safeguards, but we damn well better work on a cure/innoculation for it, because people are

              • Well, it works for me: I will not have sex with a stranger now that I know about HIV/AIDS and all those STDs! Most people that I know would probably do likewise. The thing is that people don't need to have sex, they want to have sex. The good thing is, they can still have sex but they just need to know to protect themselves. Why should my tax money pay for someone who can't keep it in their pants and doesn't want to be bothered with a condom, and then gets AIDS. Most often than not AIDS is a choice (albeit,
                • You seem to not recognize that there are some pretty significant sociological issues preventing people from getting this kind of education, in addition to the problem that people are programmed to have sex.

                  For instance Catholic Bishops and priests teach their very God fearing populations that if they use contraceptives, including condoms they are committing a mortal sin. The attitude seems to be that people don't care if they're having sex outside of marriage, but they do care if they are using a condom...
                  • unless you're a woman in sub-Saharan Africa

                    But I think that is the real problem, not AIDS. A cure for AIDS would be just a small band-aid, there will always be "another AIDS" that comes after it, and will affect the same segment of the population. Don't you think that poverty, starvation, a total lack of education, explotation of human beings is a much larger problem, that if fixed, will also get rid of AIDS.

                    It is not only true of Africa, poor kids in the NY "Projects" are not too far from that condit

                    • Standard of living isn't just about education and food, it's also about better jobs, and healthcare, among many other things. Working on AIDS falls squarely into the better healthcare arena. Whether or not there is a new disease on the horizon we should still be trying to eliminate the current ones. Should we stop research on heart medicine because if we cure heart disease Americans will just die of cancer? Besides, heart disease is symptom of a social problem - poor diet, one that can be rectified thro
            • Speaking of dumptrucks full of money, I still don't understand why are so many resourses being poured into HIV/AIDS research? I would think all that money could go into educating people and focusing on prevention. AIDS seems to be a completely preventable disease -- all that needs to change is sexual behavior and blood transfusion methods. It is not a disease that someone gets from shaking hands or riding on a bus with others, or eating contaminated food, not even by being bitten by insects. In other words

          • In the case of an autoimmune response causing immunodeficiency, then the disease isn't actually AIDS.

            AIDS - Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome. Note the Acquired. If it wasn't actually *acquired* from somewhere but instead happened due to a genetic defect, it isn't actually AIDS by definition.

            Thus, in the case you state, the immune deficiency is not actually AIDS. (There ARE other known immunodeficiency disorders. While they aren't caused by HIV, in fact many are caused by genetic defects, they aren't A
        • Given that your favorite website hasn't been updated in years and your newest quote is from 2000, it seems that the dissident position is thoroughly dead by now. The undeniable successes of anti-retroviral therapy probably did it.
    • by soundofthemoon (623369) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:02AM (#14555522)
      This isn't a new idea, that HIV isn't the cause of AIDS. You get these kind of weird ideas when laymen try to apply "common sense" in place of domain knowledge. HIV is a retrovirus that attacks the immune system, so it has unusual characteristics and effects compared to most other viruses.

      A common argument goes that when a person is most sick with AIDS they have a low HIV load, which "doesn't make sense", since in all other viral infections the viral load is high when the infection is acute. However, since HIV destroys the immune cells in which it grows, you can actually see a low viral load as the infection progresses because it has no place left to grow. But by then the immune system is no longer effective at fighting off other infections and the infected person gets very sick.

      As for the procedures that were followed, I think researchers have done a very good job at studying HIV and its transmission. However no ethical researcher would intentionally infect a human with a fatal disease, and HIV is specific to humans. SIV (a related virus that infects simians) has also been studied and it's pretty well accepted by now that SIV causes an AIDS-like condition in monkeys, and that HIV is actually the agent that causes AIDS in humans.
    • How come AIDS targets homosexuals in the West, but heterosexuals in Africa?
    • Short answer: Yes. (Score:5, Informative)

      by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:19AM (#14555577) Homepage Journal
      Long answer: There have been plenty of studies with Rhesus Monkeys that do indeed show that injecting the HIV virus does cause AIDS. The alternative theory was devised by a French scientist whose name escapes me, but appears to have been motivated more for fame, glory and nationalism than anything. The argument is often repeated, but repeating it doesn't make it valid, it simply makes it heard more often.


      With the HIV virus, we know the mechanism by which infection originates, spreads, disables the immune system, etc. There isn't a vast amount we don't know. The HIV virus took a while to isolate and sequence, but when compared to other viruses, it was damn quick.


      What we don't know is the history prior to the first recorded case, whether or not a guy in England really DID somehow eliminate the HIV virus from his body (he refuses to get re-tested after he got a negative), why some people do not produce HIV antibodies when exposed to the virus (are they immune, as some claim, or is their immune system just not capable of detecting it?) and how a virus so astronomically unstable can function (one problem with producing a vaccine is that de-activated HIV can re-activate itself, becoming extremely dangerous).


      Now, there are indeed cases where medical science seems to have jumped to conclusions. BSE and CJDnv are supposedly caused by prions, but infected brain tissue retains its ability to transfer the deadly agent after being cooked at high temperatures. Also, it is unclear how proteins (a prion is just a protein) can get through the stomach wall AND the blood-brain barrier in order to cause damage.


      Even in this case, although there are plenty of skeptics of the prion theory, I know of nobody who is seeking to ridicule the work. Rather, they are pursuing their own lines of enquiry with some measure of dignity. That's how you can tell the good from the great. The merely good will sometimes bolster their egos by proclaiming themselves the One True Word, denouncing everyone else. The great let the results speak for themselves.

    • by PsiPsiStar (95676) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:29AM (#14555610)
      The guy's name is professor Peter Duesberg. I did a speech based on his book "Infectious AIDS, Have We Been Misled" 7 years ago when I was in college.

      To start out with, Deusberg was a good scientist, making important discoveries regarding oncogenic viruses, and was consequently recipient of the NIH's "Outstanding Investigator" grant. Whether his theory is correct or not, what is certain is that he has been the subject of career assassination for political rather than scientific reasons, for his views in the early days of the AIDS crisis. It was essentially argued that dissent from the HIV=AIDS model would cause confusion and interfere with efforts to prevent the spread of HIV\AIDS. Deusberg's university treated him as a paraiah and his NIH grant was rescinded. Science cannot operate properly if opposing views are silenced for political reasons.

      The nobel laureate you refer to is Kerry Mullis. Despite inventing PCR the guy is a self described nut and LSD user. I wouldn't put too much weight in his testimony. Mullis argues that the Viral Load test, based on PCR, is far less precise than it is claimed to be. I don't know if this is true or not.

      While I'm not agreeing with Deusberg's hypothesis, like any dissident his criticisms have focused on weaknesses in the HIV-AIDS theory over the years.

      Deusberg has made a number of very good points regarding HIV, which are only now starting to be considered. Among them;

      HIV is an opportunistic infection. People most often become HIV positive because they engaged in some other activity which damages the immune system such as the use of certain drugs (such as amyl nitrates or injected drugs) or hemopheliacs. Even before the AIDS crisis, hemopheliacs still had a dramatically shortened lifespan and increased suceptibility to disease. Deusberg claims (and I would tend to question, but don't have facts on hand to refute) that the death rate for hemopheliacs does not indicate their being hit by a lethal epidemic during the time of the early AIDS crisis and that their lifespan has steadily increased. The fact that HIV is an opportunistic infection suggested to Duesberg that it could be a marker for another condition or conditions which causes immune suppression. (Hemopheliacs, even without HIV, are immune suppressed.) While Deusberg gives a general notion of an immune system collapsing under excessive strain, it seems that Human Herpes Virus 8, common to AIDS victims, has been shown to also cause immune suppresion. HHV8 is transmissible via saliva and probably acts synergistically with HIV to dramatically speed up the progression of the disease. HHV8 is the virus responsible for Kaposi's Sarcoma, a symptom previously attributed to HIV.

      Azidothymidine or AZT, which has been shown to reduce HIV viral load, has side effects that are essentially identical to AIDS including immune suppresion. AZT has never been proven to increase lifespan in a reliable, controlled study. The infamous Concord Study which attempted to prove the benefits of AZT, was hopelessly flawed. Subjects receiving the drug were aware of it and shared their medicine with the control group to help them. AZT was a chemotheraputic agent for cancer which was discontinued due to its severe side effects sometime before the late '60s. It's approval for use against HIV essentially circumvented the normal FDA approval process, due to the crisis of its introduction. It has been argued that AZT prevents seroconversion to HIV positivity and I think it's still used for this purpose.

      Finally, unrelated to Deusberg, the CDC seems to be working off an outdated model for the evolution of infectious diseases (Burnette and White's model) which was based on analysis of airborne infection rather than fluid borne infection, which seems subject to different pressures. B&W's theory suggests (incorrectly) that all lethal diseases will, in time, evolve to benign co-existance with their host. This is generally true for airborne diseases. B&W's theory demands that HIV be a virus that was newly int
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Where to start ?

        First. HIV is NOT an opportunistic infection.

        An opportunistic infection is an infection that gets the opportunity because of a weakened condition of the immune system. HIV is an infection that attacts and weakens the immune system, so that it leaves its victim viable to opportunistic infections (such as Herpes, or many diseases that were considered gone and conquerored). AIDS is the
        condition of having such a weak immune system because of HIV, and that you die BECAUSE OF opportunistic infecti
        • First. HIV is NOT an opportunistic infection.

          I know that HIV weakens the immune system. HIV is ALSO an opportunistic infection. Compare HIV infection rates to somthing like chlamydia. HIV infection rates are miniscule by comparison. You typically need some other complicating factor like a genital sore, blood contact, etc to get HIV seropositivity.

          Those who are most likely to die of HIV are those whose immune systems were already compromised; those who are starving, use drugs (even non-injected drugs such as
      • Western Blot (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Kary Mullis is saying more research needs to be done. And he has some good points that HIV isn't always the cause of AIDS-like symptoms, so additional testing must be carried out before giving all kinds of anti-HIV drugs to a patient with AIDS symptoms.

        In my opinion, he does not have proof that HIV does NOT cause AIDS.

        Are we supposed to risk the creation of millions of orphans in Africa because of the doubts of one Nobel laureate? What about all the other Nobel laureates? There are many of them, do we throw
        • To answer your question about "Western Blot", the virus HIV has a defect in it's error correction mechanism and is unable to ensure that it is not creating proteins to which the body has antibodies to. This means that if say there are a million copies of the virus .. a few thousand may be invisible to the anti-body while thousands more are susceptible to it. That's one of the reasons why AIDS cant kill off a person rapidly.

          Another poster answered my question. The antibodies are responses to more stable inte
      • On the Western blot test: The virus has parts that can be allowed to be highly variable without seriously affecting its activity, and parts that need to be conserved because otherwise it would be deficient and longer replicate. On an intact, infective virus the parts exposed to the outer world tend to be highly variable ones, while the conserved ones are kept buried inside.

        Immunological tests are done on viruses that are broken up and no longer infective: Not only is this safer, but it allows the individu

        • Thanks for answering my question re: the Western Blot test. That makes a lot of sense.

          That the early tests on AZT were not so convincing is irrelevant;

          It is relevant if you want to consider any epidemiological data which includes people being treated with AZT.

          There is not a shred of a rational reason to doubt that HIV causes AIDS

          Agreed. HAART therapy often has the effect of sending KS into remission, (even though the virus which causes KS is oddly not cleared more effectively after the introduction of HAART
      • The history of syphilis is a good illustration of this process at work.


        How? If anything, syphilis is the exact opposite case; in its current form after countless generations of infecting people, it is less virulent and severe and more prone to latent infection.
        • How? If anything, syphilis is the exact opposite case; in its current form after countless generations of infecting people, it is less virulent and severe and more prone to latent infection.

          Syphilis (according to some sources) existed as a non sexually transmitted disease prior to it's time as an STD, in the form of yaws. Yaws was much less virulent than syphilis. The rise of European cities and the resulting increase in promiscuous sex coincided with the rapid spread of syphilis. In other words, a change i
    • The NIH (ahref=http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/evidhi v .htmrel=url2html-6476 [slashdot.org]http://www.niaid.nih.gov/fact sheets/evidhiv.htm>) has a pretty good overview. In short, the "HIV does not cause AIDS" camp sounds pretty flaky. HIV has been isolated and introduced to chimps and shown to cause AIDS in them, for instance.

      True, sometimes in science you do have the radicals and visionaries who nobody will listen to, like the continental drift people before seafloor spreading was discovered. On the other hand,

    • Among other things, there was the complaint that some people have HIV, but don't get AIDS. And others have AIDS, but no HIV.

      According to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] (and some other sources, but Wikipedia was easiest to link to) most people who get infected by Tuberculosis never develop any symptoms, since their immune system keeps the bacteria under control (but is unable to completely destroy it, unfortunately).

      And AIDS is a symptom, not a disease in itself. Anything that hinders the immune system could cause it, from

      • Anything that hinders the immune system could cause it, from genetics



        [nitpick]

        Immune deficiency caused by genetic factors would not be AIDS, since it is not Acquired, but innate.

        [/nitpick]

    • that HIV hadn't been proven to cause AIDS, and that a Nobel prize winner -- the guy who invented PCR -- was in agreement.

      I think the last Kary Mullis has said about HIV/AIDS was in his 1998 book "Dancing Naked in the Mind Field". Lots of research has happened since then. BTW, in the book he also states that he believes in astrology and UFOs/alien abduction. It's a good read.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:45AM (#14555467)
    Does that mean we can start using it in Counterstrike mods?
  • by Rxke (644923) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @03:47AM (#14555475) Homepage
    I live in Belgium, a country that takes pride in its high quality of education. But just yesterday a survey showed that about 70% of the youth doesn't have a clue how you can contract HIV, and a very high percentage takes no protective measures at all. Staggering numbers for a developed country. One of the people that was involved in organising the survey said this was partly to blame to the false sense of security. Rumors about new cures, tales about how good the HIV treatments work. Youth these days seems to think it isn't that deadly after all, at least not deadly enough to be very wary... Sensibilisation campaigns seemed to be inadequate to change this view.
    • by BewireNomali (618969) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:27AM (#14555605)
      It's the same way in the states. I live in NY, which has a relatively high percentage of HIV cases (HIV is very prevalent amongst poor African American and Hispanic communities - with additional stressors of a dense population). A friend teaches teens and told me that one of her students commented that it "wasn't a big deal" and that he'd just take "the pills" if he contracted it. He concluded by saying he wore no protection for sex.

      There is a perception that it is a rare, chronic, and treatable disease.
      • There is a perception that it is a rare, chronic, and treatable disease.

        It is.
        It is.
        It is.

        HIV spreads through sexual contact, which is what makes it as prevalent as it is, but it's still relatively rare in the general population. If you are exposed to it, you're far less likely to actually gain the infection compared to other blood-borne illnesses like Hepatitis C. And if you are HIV positive, the likelihood of going into full-fledged AIDS is still relatively low, particularly if you take protease i

        • Not that big of a deal?
          Society treats you like a leper. Most people wouldn't shake your hand if you told them you were HIV positive. Many people are so afraid of HIV, they would rather throw away the cutlery you ate dinner with than "take a risk" and wash it, if they invited you to dinner at all.
          Intimacy is all but impossible. How many people would knowingly have (protected) sex with an HIV-infected partner? Most people would not dare kiss you if you are HIV positive, much less any other intimate activity.
          • Ya know, I think like you. But one of my friends is a young gay guy who is 'in love' with a guy in California and is planning on moving out there to spend the rest of his life with this guy -- which he knows quite well won't be very long. He says, and I quote, "I will never be anything worthwhile anyway, so I might as well die happy."
            Unbelievable.
            And he's a nice guy, and not particularly stupid. He's just wired differently than I am.

            note please I have no problem with his sexuality. I quotate 'in love' b
      • And what really enfuriates me, is that people panic and floc to not-yet-proven (or just plain paranoid) methods to protect themselves against the latest very exotic, very rare decease they heard about on TV...
        People run around like headless chickens when a few die of mad cow or whatever but nobody cares about AIDS killing thousands daily.
        The latest mediatic decease ends up killing less then you normal flu, or the car, or alcohol.
        Fear and ignorance go hand in hand my friends while the real risks are ignor
      • Good point. That is why I always wonder why so much research time and money is put in to HIV/AIDS. It seems to be a completely preventable disease. Why isn't all that money put into educating people and controlling blood transfusions. If the money must be used for research, why not study the Avian Flu or Malaria -- things that could spread without individuals being able to do much about it.

        • Because to properly control AIDS, much of our social structure would need to change. Some changes are:

          *Acceptance that people are not going to stop having sex
          *People are willing to risk death for sex
          *Acceptance that when we hit puberty, we are adults, and will start having sex
          *Honest prostitution would need to be legal and acceptable
          *Dishonest prostitution (currently the most common dating ritual) would need to be shunned
          *The truly stupid would need to be rounded up and incarcerated for their own a
          • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:39PM (#14561578)
            People don't have to stop having sex, they just need to be careful. It is like saying that "because driving kills most adults in US -- driving should be stopped". But all that needs to happen is for people to be careful. and here is where education comes into play. Dating doesn't have to be stopped, people should just not have unprotected sex on the 3rd date. Honest prostitution should be legalized. The number of the truly stupid would have to be reduced. On a large scale, education and better living standards might help. But if they choose not to listen, they will eventually end up in jail or dead -- it is their choice. They should be informed about and then decide.

            Those who are extremely stupid will end up in jails anyway -- it will be expensive to feed them but so be it, I'll pay taxes to keep my white trash neighbours in jail before I'll pay taxes to fund their drug use and their welfare checks.

            We do live in a world of self denial, we are even in denial about our denial (the same thing really...). Everyone today will defend their and others behaviors as "just natural" -- the animals do it, so I will do it too, It's in my genes and I can't help it. "The genes made me rob that store, your honor!" Pesonal responability and restraint is something that is fading away and there is not sign of it coming back.

    • Hmmm. Maybe. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)
      Most people like reassurance. They go towards the calming, soothing voice of the shephard like all good sheep. (Well, maybe that's a bit harsh. I'm sure there are some rebellious sheep out there.) In other words, people tend to prefer their horrors at a distance. They don't like the idea that THEY might be next.

      The survey itself should be examined, though. It is very easy to put in leading questions, especially in a subject area that invites more tales of bravado than facts. It would be good if a more compr

    • When I was a kid the dutch tv station Veronica had aired an program about AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It was explicit and used porn actors to show in full detail how to use condoms. Couple that with movies about people dying, some hardhitting campaigns and it was pretty hard not to grow up being aware that screwing without a condome was bad for you.

      Even then an awfull lot of people didn't do the safe sex thing.

      It also put a strain on people. Not nice to be constantly reminded as a young

  • So does this mean people can put together 3d structures that interfere with HIV? I'd really like to know more about how a picture of a virus and information on its geometry can help us in viral combat.

    can't wait for google to make google hiv so I can fly around on it surface.

    • Re:3d modeling (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mortiss (812218)
      This image cannot be used for structural modelling of potential inhibitors because its resolution is too low. You need an x-ray crystal structure with Angstrom resolustions to be able to do this (these images have resolution of ~4 nm which is still very impressive for electron microscopy)
      However, partial structures of HIV surface proteins (gp120 and gp41) are available but I am not sure if they have been used to model potential inhibitors.
      On related note there is a newely FDA licensed inhibitor compound (
    • Re:3d modeling (Score:2, Insightful)

      The biggest advance of the study is that it illuminates how the maturation process of the virus works.

      HIV contains an enzyme, known as HIV protease, with related functionality to the proteases found in "biological" washing powders: It cuts other proteins in pieces. In HIV one of its functions is to cut a protein called gag, which helps the virus to assemble and leave a cell, into two others, known as matrix and capsid. The matrix supports the outer membrane of the virus, while the capsid surrounds the cri

  • The results offer hope for a microbicide that can prevent the spread of HIV, which now affects about 40 million people.

    I'm assuming this means that it would help already-infected individuals to contain and/or resist the virus? Personally while it might be a nice addition to existing safeguards (being careful of partners, condoms, etc) I wouldn't exactly trust eating yoghurt to keep me safe from HIV.
    • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @05:06AM (#14555713)
      No, the idea is a microbicidal cream that will form a barrier against HIV. I must admit to confusion over why this would be such a great breakthrough. It is unlikely to provide better protection than a condom. I guess women could use it where their partners refused to use a condom. Perhaps one idea will be to use it in conjunction with a condom in the way once recommended with nonoxynol-9. Note that creams [hivdent.org] and gels [washingtonpost.com] with similar objectives are already being evaluated (supported by the Gates Foundation and others).
      • One would imagine it's not used in sexual situations at all, but as a preventative measure during medical procedures.
      • I guess women could use it where their partners refused to use a condom.
        I guess this is the part where I get a little confused and old fashioned. If you are worried about catching a fatal disease from the person you are about to sleep with, wouldn't it make more sense to simply NOT SLEEP WITH THEM?
        • works great in the us. won't work in africa where a woman's philandering and infected husband won't take no for an answer in the bedroom.
  • obligatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by pyros (61399) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:01AM (#14555518) Journal
    Frink: Take an ordinary double-helix ...

    Wiggum: Woah! Slow down there egghead.
  • by waferhead (557795) <waferhead AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @04:15AM (#14555566)
    Anything one can load in Blender etc?
  • Tomography (Score:2, Informative)

    by tchiwam (751440)
    It would be nice to know what methods they used for tomography. With the latest methods it can be possible to get better Tomography resolution than the measurment device has by itself. The geometry of the measurement itself would be great to know too.

    Also it is today possible to solve many million unknowns by using stocastic inversion, something that was taking ages and truly huge amount of memory not so long ago, can now be done on a deskside.

    For example it is possible to reconstruct the shape of an astero
    • I don't follow the research, but I fully expected this 3D model would be the product of xray crystallography, where we could expect a much higher resolution than that of tomography; down to the sub Angstrom level when you're lucky (very unlikely with virues though).

      The reason was, as I am aware of the difficulties of collecting useful xray diffraction data on large assemblies (even when they're broken down into constituent parts), and an awareness of the great deal of funding channeled into HIV research,

  • by Anonymous Coward
    is how very similar it is to the Burger King logo

    BK logo [bk.com]

    HIV [bbc.co.uk]
  • I'm interested in how they got these pictures. Was this the use of a start of the art technique? Or a new application of a technique that is more tried and true? Is this something that I can do at home with my kid? (I'm only half kidding about that last question.)
  • Its taken what, 15 years to get to the point of saying "The results offer hope for a microbicide that can prevent the spread of HIV, which now affects about 40 million people." the point that we have taken this long to get to the "hope" point bodes ill for science's ability to respond to emerging threats or to bioterriorism.
  • Well, maybe not so much this crowd. ;-)

    (For the age challenged: Back in the '70's, people (e.g. in the U.S.) "played" a lot more, to put it one way...).
  • by mprinkey (1434) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:01PM (#14559004)
    OK, I have a question for those M.D. types about. Has anyone investitaged the possibility of breaking virus by hitting them with carefully tuned chorus of electromagnetic (and/or ultrasonic) waves? If they can build up a 3D model of the thing, then they can identify vibrational modes in the virus structure, right? If you can catalog several of these modes and expose infected tissue to EM waves that will excite vibrations at those frequencies, it seems natural to think that you could literally shatter the virus mechanically. By using many different frequencies, damage to other benign cells and structures could be avoided as all of the driven frequencies would dump energy into the virus' protein sheath. Other cells might only have a resonance close to one of the frequencies and not absorb much energy.

    I've long since wondered if this could work. Maybe the differing composition of the human body would complicate things or maybe the frequencies involved would be too readily absorbed by other tissues. Just thought I'd ask.
    • [While I am not into HIV virus research, I am a Ph.D. level structural biologist and feel qualified to answer this.]
      Won't work, unfortunately. Remember that a virus is an inanimate object composed of self-assembling parts. You can shake them apart all you want, they'll just reassemble. Unless you find a way to permanently damage the individual protein and nucleic acid subunits. However, I'm guessing the collateral damage to human tissue would be very high.
      • I'm neither a PhD nor an engineer.
        Specificity is a big problem. There are roughly 40,000 proteins in the human proteome; an average protein is roughly 450 amino acids, the average amino acid contains about 20 covalent bonds, so the proteome alone has roughly 400M different covalent bonds in it. I submit that no matter how specific a frequency you can tune, it will vanish into the overlap from other proteins. Absorption bands are pretty broad. I'm assuming you'd focus on proteins, coz we can rebuild thos
  • These must be some pretty good scientists, as they were able to get windows to run on a mac [purdue.edu] (in the background). However, they were only able to get it to run on a PPC mac, and not an Intel Macintosh. So close, but so far.

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