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Two Women Found With HIV-Immune Mutant Gene 723

Trokair writes "China Daily reports that researcher Tuofu Zhu has discovered two women in an HIV Research program that are immune to the disorder via a mutant gene."
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Two Women Found With HIV-Immune Mutant Gene

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:12PM (#10456329)
    Interestingly, it is linked directly to the ugly gene.
    • You sez:

      "... it is linked directly to the ugly gene."

      Say it ain't so, buddy.

      If the human civilization succumbs to the AIDS epidemic, the NEW human civilization will have those two women as their MOTHERS.
      • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

        by fluxrad ( 125130 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @01:03AM (#10457167) Homepage
        This gene has been known of for quite some time. What is odd is that it was previously thought that only (primarily) caucasians had the mutant gene.
      • by AndroidCat ( 229562 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @01:07AM (#10457184) Homepage
        the NEW human civilization will have those two women as their MOTHERS.

        Like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, there is speculation that this has already happened...

        "Yuck, me new woman have ugly flat brow and high forehead!"
        "Then why you sleep with her?"
        "She very inventive."

    • by Madcapjack ( 635982 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @12:55AM (#10457129)
      Well, I for one, welcome our new ugly gene overlords.
  • Immune (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThndrShk2k ( 805287 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:12PM (#10456330) Homepage
    With this they probably could make a vaccine or genetically engineer a "virus" that could prevent AIDS*The disorder caused by the HIV virus*
    • Re:Immune (Score:5, Informative)

      by theparanoidcynic ( 705438 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:20PM (#10456372)
      I think that the existance of this mutation has been known for some time. The key is that it was only thought to exist in the caucasian population until now.
    • Re:Immune (Score:5, Informative)

      by lucabrasi999 ( 585141 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:22PM (#10456384) Journal

      From the article

      "Before, such mutant genes were only found in Caucasians. The finding has encouraged us to do further research in China, with the aim of developing medicines to prevent and cure HIV/AIDS for different races,"said Zhu.

      Sounds like some mutant genes have been found previously, so I am not sure if this will add any new information to the fight against AIDS.

      China is now at a key moment in adopting effective measures to control and prevent HIV/AIDS as the disease moves from high risk populations to the general population, in most cases though sexual transmission, Zhu pointed out.

      China had better be prepared for a potential disaster. Even if the presense of this "mutant" gene does lead to some sort of cure, it will probably take years to develop and test. In the meantime, China, along with most Middle Eastern and Asian countries, has a high risk of having an AIDS related disaster of a scope way beyond what we now see in Africa. We're talking tens of millions of people infected and/or dying all across the Middle East and Asia.

      • Re:Immune (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Frogbert ( 589961 ) <frogbert@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:05PM (#10456474)
        Yes there have been numerious cases of prostitutes in South Africa being imune to the disease.
        • Re:Immune (Score:4, Informative)

          by Stephen H-B ( 771203 ) <sjholmesbrown&gmail,com> on Thursday October 07, 2004 @12:38AM (#10457047) Homepage
          I may be wrong about this, but I remember reading/hearing that many of these 'immune' women were just asymptomatic carriers. That meant they were still infected with HIV and infectious but didn't themselves develop AIDS.
        • Re:Immune (Score:5, Informative)

          by BuD-TheDude ( 819824 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @12:55AM (#10457131)
          Very true, but keep in mind that this was not true immunity. The original ~10 prostitutes found immune were then taken away from their constant exposure to HIV and some were put on antiretrovirlas. It was only after this removal that they began to progress to AIDS. There are several ways in which our body can outmaneuver HIV. This adaptive immune response is remarkable though I feel that the protein APOBEC3G is also worth mentioning. APOBEC3G is an intracellular antiretoviral protein that "interferes with the replication of HIV by incorporating itself into virus particles and damaging the genetic material of the virus. The viral protein Vif can halt this process in two ways". Vif is one of atleast 15 proteins found in HIV's 9 definitive genes. For an interesting read: []
      • Re:Immune (Score:5, Informative)

        by Hooded One ( 684008 ) <> on Thursday October 07, 2004 @12:07AM (#10456904) Journal
        That would be correct. The immunity has been known of for a few years. I'm sort of disappointed the article didn't make that clearer, or explain how it works at all.

        My biology teacher covered it as part of our lesson on HIV, about 3 years ago. Basically, it has to do with the structure of their white blood cells. Specifically, they lack the CCR-5 protein for the virus to latch on to. The best part is that people can function just fine without this protein, so there don't appear to be any ill effects. The trick now is figuring out how to confer the immunity on those not born with it.

        A simple search for "ccr-5" will give a whole bunch of articles for anyone who's interested.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:13PM (#10456333)
    Someone call Marvel Comics, we have some new X-men candidates.
    • by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:46PM (#10456750) Journal
      Great, two hot Chinese women whose 'superpowers' are that they can fuck anyone and inject any needle without being harmed. I guess it was about time X-Men went hentai and became XXX-Men.

      I'm imagining them in the leather bodysuits from the movies, but crotchless and with a opening at the elbows for shooting up. Their arch-nemesis shall be Donkey Boy and Heroin Girl.

      Oh god, what kind of pathetic geek am I? I just turned an important piece of AIDS research that could help millions into a bad porno comic joke... I will log off before I embarrass myself further.

      If you need me, I will be in my bedroom, masturbating...
  • mirrored... (Score:3, Informative)

    by boisepunk ( 764513 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:13PM (#10456334)
    Two women found with HIV-immune mutant gene
    Wang Zhuoqiong
    2004-10-01 05:17

    SHENZHEN: Two women have been identified as carrying a mutant gene that is immune to HIV/AIDS, the first such cases uncovered in China, a researcher said.

    The finding is the joint effort of a research programme, "Association of Human Genetic Polymorphisms with HIV Affections," jointly conducted by the University of Washington in the US State of Washington and local Infectious Disease Hospitals and medical institutions in Guangdong Province.

    Tuofu Zhu, associate professor of University of Washington and associate director of the Clinical Core at the Centre for AIDS Research (CFAR), introduced the programme to China a year ago as a part of his global research in nations in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia.

    "Before, such mutant genes were only found in Caucasians. The finding has encouraged us to do further research in China, with the aim of developing medicines to prevent and cure HIV/AIDS for different races,"said Zhu.

    China is now at a key moment in adopting effective measures to control and prevent HIV/AIDS as the disease moves from high risk populations to the general population, in most cases though sexual transmission, Zhu pointed out.

    Zhu said that setting up a research centre in Guangdong Province is appropriate as its population has made it the best platform for collecting diversified samples.

    "With the largest mobile population in China, we can get samples from migrants who are from other parts of the country," said Zhu.

    Since a greater number of patients infected with sexual transmitted disease in particular are reported in Guangdong Province, sample collections are more efficient than other regions in China, Zhu added.

    So far, according to Zhu, his programme in Shenzhen has identified 11 Exposed Seronegatives (ES) since January.

    Zhu explained that the immune systems of some individuals may be capable of resisting HIV infection. These individuals who do not appear to be infected with HIV despite multiple sexual encounters with HIV infected partners are referred to as exposed seronegatives (ES).

    To be specific, any one who has conducted sexual activities at least twice weekly in four consecutive months with an HIV-infected partner might be identified as ES.

    Of 11 ES cases, two cases have later been identified as carrying the mutant genes.

    In Zhu's opinion, if medicine functioning similarly with the genes was put in the vagina and rectum, the HIV virus couldn't find its carrier to enter the human body and thus would be expelled.

    In Shenzhen, both confirmed samples are women who have been exposed to HIV for many years but remained uninfected.

    One of them, in her 40s, has kept a regular sexual life with her husband without any protection measures for nine years. Her husband, who was infected with the deadly virus by blood transfusion in 1994, was hospitalized in Shenzhen's Donghu Hospital in July last year.

    However, due to the limited qualified samples, Zhu said it is still too early to draw any conclusion from the programme, adding "we definitely need more support from the local hospital, medical institutions and government to collect more data from ES people."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:14PM (#10456339)
    That would be a great pick up line. "Hey baby, want your kids to be immune?"
  • Genetics at work? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by enforcer999 ( 733591 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:18PM (#10456365) Journal
    Well, we are a very capable species. We will not die off easily. Aids/HIV are dangerous and deadly to us. It was just a matter of time before our own bodies figured out how to survive this virus. We have a good package to work with.

    Just my first thoughts on the subject. I would like to know more about the study.

    • Re:Genetics at work? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jm92956n ( 758515 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:32PM (#10456419) Journal
      It was just a matter of time before our own bodies figured out how to survive this virus.

      I don't think that's exactly the case. HIV is only twenty-five years old, which certainly isn't enough time for genetic evolution to take place (especially considering the relatively slow reporductive rate of humans).

      It's more likely they've an odd mutant gene that by coincadence makes them immune to the virus.
      • Re:Genetics at work? (Score:5, Informative)

        by ashridah ( 72567 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:02PM (#10456464)
        "I don't think that's exactly the case. HIV is only twenty-five years old, which certainly isn't enough time for genetic evolution to take place (especially considering the relatively slow reporductive rate of humans)."

        HIV is most certainly NOT only 25 years old.
        It's extremely old, they have preserved tissue samples from almost 50 years ago or so that have been found to contain the virus (the subject died in exactly the same way as the first cases presented here)
        (an english sailor died of a oppertunistic diseases, and after he died, tissue was preserved for later study.)

        The event that has made HIV into a new epidemic is massive changes in social morality. Originally, HIV was called the Gay-Related immuno-deficiency syndrome or somesuch, because it was primarily affecting people who were outwardly gay.

        Of course, it turned out that these people were just starting to be very broad in their choice of partners, and of course, people were starting to share needles for drug use.

        • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @01:23AM (#10457280) Homepage Journal
          HIV/AIDS caused by changing sexual mores? Puh-leese.

          Perhaps you could explain how this observation works with the fact that the most virulent New World disease (Syphilis) managed to spread like wildfire from Catholic Spain at the height of the Inquisition, throughout European society. And while you're at it, perhaps you could explain how it was still a significant and common disease at the height of the Victorian period.

          Maybe I'll save you the effort. Both Syphilis and HIV/AIDS were enabled by revolutions in *Human Mobility*, not changes in morality. The syphilis epidemic erupted at the same time that commerce via ship hit a spike, and HIV/AIDS hit us when air travel spiked.

          It's no surprise that 'Patient Zero' in the US HIV/AIDS outbreak was an airline steward. It *is* a coincidence that he happened to be gay.
      • Re:Genetics at work? (Score:3, Informative)

        by jcr ( 53032 )
        HIV is only twenty-five years old,

        Well, that's not clear. The virus may have existed in simian hosts for a very long time, and may also have been contracted by humans many times before but not become epidemic. It takes more than contagion and virulence to make an epidemic.

      • Re:Genetics at work? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:07PM (#10456483) Homepage
        HIV is only twenty-five years old, which certainly isn't enough time for genetic evolution to take place.

        Mutations happen all the time - 0.0000000000000214/nucleotide/generation according to these guys []. Now multiply that by 3 billion nucleotides in a human, and 70(?) days to replace all the cells in your body. Most of the time, the mtuation is fatal and the cell dies. Most of the rest of the time, it does nothing at all. Once in a while, you get a mutation that is actually beneficial. And once in a while, that mutation happens to occur in gamates, so it actually gets passed on to children. That's clearly what happened in this case.

        • Re:Genetics at work? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Proc6 ( 518858 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @01:02AM (#10457163)
          Just for fun...

          multiply that by 3 billion nucleotides in a human

          70 year lifespan = 365 70-day cycles.
          (so 0.0000642 x 365)

          1 (person) divided by 0.0243433

          So 1 mutation every 4 peoples entire lives, with a "most of the time it does nothing at all", sure doesnt look like a lot of evolution just whizzing past us to me...

          Of course I'm just computing numbers without fact checking and maybe missing something.

        • Misinformative (Score:4, Insightful)

          by DietFluffy ( 150048 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @02:41AM (#10457568)
          Why is this modded Informative? The parent is implying that these 2 women developed a mutation that made them immune to the HIV virus. This is a total misconception of how evolution works. This is not a comic book people, Evolution works as trends within species. The mutation described in the article is clearly a coincidental mutation that came about much earlier, not one that evolved due to the current 25-year-old aids epidemic.
  • Virtual Light (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mark_MF-WN ( 678030 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:19PM (#10456370)
    Didn't they do this in William Gibson's "Virtual Light"? Yet another Gibson prophecy fulfilled.
  • by vossman77 ( 300689 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:23PM (#10456393) Homepage
    If you RTFA you'll note:
    "Before, such mutant genes were only found in Caucasians. The finding has encouraged us to do further research in China, with the aim of developing medicines to prevent and cure HIV/AIDS for different races," said Zhu
    So it is NOT a new phenomenon.
    • by craXORjack ( 726120 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:49PM (#10456421)
      I swear I saw a documentary on PBS about how a tiny percentage of mostly european descendants are immune and it was because of the Black Death (or Bubonic plague, I'm not sure that those are the same thing.) But googling for answers lead me to this article [] which says that 10-15 percent of northern europeans have limited immunity due to inheriting 1 resistant gene and 1% inherited the gene from both parents giving them full immunity. And Swedes have the highest percentage. Also it says the Plague is debunked and suggests the everpresent Smallpox as the culprit.
  • Not really news (Score:5, Informative)

    by ajna ( 151852 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:23PM (#10456396) Homepage Journal
    HIV immunity has been reported in various sources in the past:

    • a group of Kenyan prostitutes [] believed to be HIV immune but no longer
    • the case of David Crohn [] and others who lack secondary CCR5 (for macrophages) or CXCR4 (for T-cells) receptors and are thus resistant to HIV infection. NB: CCR5 and CXCR4 are believed to be secondary to the CD4 receptor, found on both cell types, in the HIV binding process.

    The only novel thing about this discovery is that it was in Asians, vs. the Caucasian populations in which immunity had previously been reported (and I suppose African as well, even though the Kenyan prostitutes as referenced above turned out to not be immune). The article is pretty worthless, not even listing what the "mutant genes" are, but it's a pretty good guess that CCR5 and/or CXCR4 is involved.
  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:28PM (#10456405) Homepage Journal
    How I was reflecting on Gibsons Virtual Light over my morning coffee this morning and now I hear about the mutant gene that practically fulfills Gibsons prophecy regarding the therapy.

    Personally, I would undergo genetic therapy and have my chioldren (when/if I have them) undergo such a therapy if made available. I think this particular finding an excellent example of how far the field of genetics has gone and the promise it shows.
    The flip side of course being the perils of falling into the Nazi idealism of creating a master race from a genetic template considered desirable.
  • by taxman_10m ( 41083 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:32PM (#10456416)
    Lots of people immune from STDs here.
  • I hope this is true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShatteredDream ( 636520 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @10:56PM (#10456434) Homepage
    Growing up, not too long into adolescence a friend of our family died of complications due to AIDS. I was barely 14 at the time and it struck me how dangerous AIDS really is. For years people used to think that my having no desire to fuck around like most of my peers was that I was gay. Then occassionally I'd let slip the story about our friend it just floored them. The scariest part is that they could have had HIV at the very moment they were thinking, after my telling that story, "but that can't happen to me."

    What really struck me was that we saw the guy only about 3-4 months before he died. He was about as healthy as I am now at 21, and I workout on a regular basis. Then a few months later, *BOOM* dead of complication caused by AIDS. The scariest thing about the disease is that you can go without knowing you have it until the last minute.
    • by TykeClone ( 668449 ) <> on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:09PM (#10456497) Homepage Journal
      Not to be harsh, but you can get the same thing with heart problems. I mowed lawns in high school - one afternoon I mowed the lawn of a little old lady. That night, my dad came home and said that she had just died of a heart attack. She looked fine that afternoon, but that night she was dead.

      Same goes for any kind of cancer - it can insidiously grow in you until there's nothing you can do about it but waste away and die.

      Probably going to burn some karma with those comments, but it's a terrible disease that they're working on. I hope they find a cure and kick its ass - same for cancer - but it's just another way to die.

  • by Teahouse ( 267087 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:02PM (#10456460)
    I'm just glad to know SOMEONE will survive if this thing ever becomes airborne. LOL! Three Chinese chicks and a guy in Aboriginal Australia will recreate the human race. Boy, is our species in for a ride!
  • so.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:05PM (#10456476)
    In communist China, you kill AIDS!
  • by ezonme ( 671218 ) <ez@tabac u d o s> on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:13PM (#10456521) Homepage
    ... in a different way. Check these "news" from July 2, 1998:

    Geneva - Researchers have uncovered unusual behaviors of human immune systems that seem to have protected certain babies in Canada [], prostitutes in Thailand [] and Africa, and gay men in San Francisco from HIV, despite exposure to the AIDS virus.

    The protections do not appear to be genetic, and may offer some critical clues to those hoping to make a vaccine against HIV.

    At Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Dr. Kelly MacDonald and a team of pediatricians noticed something odd earlier this year: HIV-positive mothers did not pass the virus to babies who were born with immunologically incompatible blood. In cases of incompatibility, the mother has one genetic type of immune system markers, and the baby a different set. This can put the baby at risk of being attacked by the mother's immune system.

    But, in the case of HIV-infected mothers, this immunological incompatibility saved the babies from HIV, MacDonald reported yesterday. The finding was based on a study of 111 mother / child pairs.

    MacDonald believes that a key factor in the babies' genetic makeup - called A2/A6802 supertype - by fortunate coincidence prevents HIV from infecting the child. When the mother and child share the same genetic makeup in their immune system, MacDonald discovered, the child is 2.63 times more likely to get infected with HIV.

    Since approximately 40 percent of the population worldwide has the A2/A6802 supertype, it makes it an attractive target for vaccine design, MacDonald said.

    The U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied 280 prostitutes in Thailand who had worked in brothels for three years or more, and a group of non-prostitute Thai women. Not surprisingly, the prostitutes were far more likely to be infected with the virus, and 47 percent were HIV-positive, the CDC reported yesterday.

    Remarkably, however, nine of the prostitutes were negative for HIV, even though they had genital herpes [] and syphilis - clear indications of unsafe sexual behavior. The women did not have any of the genetic mutations that have been shown to protect some Caucasians from HIV. But they did apparently have complete immunity. Cells of their immune systems were killing every HIV to which they were exposed, the CDC team discovered. And laboratory studies revealed that their CD8 T-cells, a type of white blood cell, were secreting a factor which, when mixed in a petri dish with human cells and HIV, stimulated immune cells to destroy the virus.

    Dr. Jay Levy of the University of California in San Francisco has presented evidence of a CD8-produced factor that stops HIV, as well. For years he has tried to isolate the mysterious substance, to no avail. But it could result, he said in a speech, in a way to maintain control of the virus without the need for antiviral drugs.

    Sharon Stranford, a researcher in Levy's laboratory, examined the immune system cells of gay San Francisco men who have been exposed repeatedly to HIV and never become infected. She said that the CD8 cells in these men make a mysterious factor that protects against HIV. But it is not the same as the one discovered in Thai prostitutes, Stranford said, because it blocks HIV without prompting immune system cells to kill the virus. It works by blocking the ability of HIV to make copies of itself, Levy said.

    Finally, a CDC team working in Abijan, Ivory Coast [], has also found a group of uninfected prostitutes. They, too, lack any genetic protection. And their ability to fight off HIV is also immunological. The team hasn't yet worked out the details, researchers said, but it is clear that immune system cells in the African prostitutes are highly activated, as if constantly ready to go to war.

  • Immunity? (Score:5, Informative)

    by FiReaNGeL ( 312636 ) <fireang3l@hGAUSS ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:17PM (#10456537) Homepage
    First, it's been know for ages, so it's not a new mutation.

    The specific 'mutation' involve CCR5, a coreceptor of HIV-1. An uncommun deletion called CCR5delta32 make it so that M-tropic HIV-1 can't enter CCR5+ cells in homozygote individuals (2 copies of the mutant gene). Heterozygotes (having a functional CCR5 and a mutated one) show less resistance to infection (70% resistance, estimated).

    HIV-1 can exhibit a tropism (T-tropic) for another coreceptor, CXCR4, for which no mutation is known, so total immunity isn't exact; we can talk about resistance at best. M-tropic viruses are associated with de novo infection, and a switch to T-tropism is thought to be a turning point in the degeneration to AIDS (but not always).

    Even CCR5delta32 individuals can be infected (althought have far less risk than you and me). Even then, the infection progress far more slowly than in normal individuals... they're called long term non-progressors. Won't develop AIDS in their lifetime, but still infectious, which can be dangerous...
  • Immunity (Score:5, Funny)

    by wildsurf ( 535389 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:20PM (#10456560) Homepage
    According to my Chinese friend, the immunity comes from eating stinky fermented tofu [] and thousand-year egg [].

    I personally plan to remain vulnerable. Alas.
  • by jeif1k ( 809151 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:23PM (#10456578)
    The women are more than likely "resistant" to HIV infection, not "immune" to it. While colloquially, the two terms may mean the same thing, the term "immune" suggests that they can't be infected by HIV because their immune system recognizes and destroys the virus. "Resistance" works by some mechanism other than an immune response.

  • by Magickcat ( 768797 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2004 @11:51PM (#10456789)
    It's interesting that the mutation has been found in the Asian population, but I'm concerned that the article places an emphasis on ideas of race, which has been an obsolete scientific term since genetic research in the 1940s and 50s.

    Race and the idea of race have are not medical ideas. The reason why so many Europeans (not merely Caucasians) have one or two copies of the mutant gene is because of the bottle neck of the black plague throughout Europe. It afforded them some or cmplete resistance to it. It is entirely possible that the Chinese people found to have the gene may have these ancestors themselves. As Chinese "asians" are just as much a mix of people from different places as "caucasians".

    There is no scientific basis for ideas of race whatsoever - we are all homo sapiens.

    Of all the genes in human being, about 75 per cent are identical in every person; only 25 per cent vary from person to person. And of that variable amount, 85 per cent of the difference would be present even if the two people were fairly closely related; that is, an ethnic subgroup, like Norwegians. Another 9 per cent of the genetic variation will result from individuals being members of separate nations or tribes within a "race"--a Spaniard and an Italian, for example. And only about 6 per cent is the result of the two people being from what we call separate races. Any person's race accounts for only about 0.24 per cent (or 6 per cent of 25 per cent) of his genetic make-up.
    Info taken from here [].
  • Not totally new (Score:5, Informative)

    by pk2000 ( 792069 ) on Thursday October 07, 2004 @03:33AM (#10457674) Homepage
    AIDS resistance has also been found in family trees that survived Black Death some 600 years ago. ml [] _n6_v18/ai_19447788/pg_2 []

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982