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Biotech Science

Human Blood May Contain A Cure For AIDS 309

Lisandro writes "German scientists at the University of Ulm have identified a natural ingredient of human blood that prevents the HIV-1 virus from from infecting immune cells and multiplying. The molecule, which they call virus-inhibitory peptide (VIRIP), promises new types of effective treatment for HIV in the future. 'Tweaks to its amino acid components boosted its anti-HIV potency by two orders of magnitude. Tests also showed that some derivatives of the molecule are highly stable in human blood plasma, and non-toxic even at very high concentrations. A synthetic version of VIRIP also proved effective at blocking HIV, excluding the possibility that some other factor was responsible. VIRIP targets a sugar molecule which HIV uses to infect a host cell. '"
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Human Blood May Contain A Cure For AIDS

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  • non-toxic even at very high concentrations

    Does this stuff affect other viruses? (Is it something that evolved for this reason?) If so, why doesn't the body make more of it already? Would that be too biologically expensive, or would that have problematic effects we haven't recognized yet?

  • by beckerist ( 985855 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:27PM (#18814741) Homepage
    Predators, like cats, cannot taste sweet because their body receives enough sugars from their food sources that they don't require the need to seek more out. We, as omnivores, have a much larger "taste range" as we require many different, and many more nutrients.
  • by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:54PM (#18815135) Homepage
    "Natural selection should select the most fit to survive."

    That's not strictly true. Natural selection is survival of the fittest, to reproduce. Once you stop having children, natural selection becomes much weaker, as your contributions to the population is merely ensuring that your children survive and reproduce, en masse. Not much selection against cancer when you're 80.

    Even though our society has shifted away from having children to make ends on the farm meet, to investing in the survival of every child some selective forces still apply. If your children are predisposed to diseases, at the margin I imagine you'll have to reduce the number of children you have. So there's still a shift, it's just much slower thanks to the progress of modern medicine. And like you said, there's plenty of people opposed to contraceptives that wind up with large families.

    Eventually gene therapy may allow us to fight off bad mutations, but there's some that theorize that bad genes exist for a reason and curing genetic diseases reduces important genetic variations.
  • What? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2007 @03:00PM (#18815219)
    What does God need with a starship^W patent?
  • Re:Dear God. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2007 @04:19PM (#18816409)
    You don't know the answer, because you are neither omnipotent nor omni-benevolent. Maybe if poor Steven had been oh so normal, he would have gotten into drugs at 17 and died at 23, or run over by car while he dashed across the street, or joined the army and died from a stray bullet, and he wouldn't have seen international stardom or given so much to science. But that wouldn't satisfy us either would it? A benevolent God should have given him perfect health and all the other things! Only a paradise would satisfy us completely, it seems, yet people make fun of paradise all the time. Maybe God just did what he saw fit, eh?

    Or at least that's what they would tell you.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday April 20, 2007 @04:22PM (#18816441) Homepage Journal

    Look, low-carb diets do produce weight loss, and you should not eat an excessive amount of carbs

    That's interesting, especially since your link says "Many promoters of dietary schemes would have us believe that a special substance or combination of foods will automatically result in weight reduction. That's simply not true. To lose weight, you must eat less, or exercise more, or do both." This is, of course, not true. As you and I both apparently know (since you said it would produce weight loss) you can lose weight without eating less and without exercising. I know because I've done it! I would get up and have four sausage links and four eggs for breakfast, I'd have a big fucking salad smothered in bleu cheese dressing (and usually with at least one sliced hardboiled egg on it, and some real bacon bits) and then dinner was a fucking huge steak fried in butter and maybe some of the lower-carb veggies - also with butter. Nine months, lost ninety pounds.

    So basically, you just discredited your own link. And frankly I'm so fucking tired of sites like quackwatch telling lies about the atkins diet that I'm starting to become disenchanted with all of them. But I especially do not take quackwatch seriously any more, having read that article in the past. That article is a mixture of studies that actually say positive things about the diet, and studies which clearly have flawed conclusions (e.g. "Because so few Atkins dieters were found in the Registry, the researchers concluded that the Atkins diet may not create the favorable "metabolic advantage" claimed for it".)

    Atkins-style diets will cause ketosis, which is (1) inefficient and (2) can lead to cardiovascular damage.

    First of all, who cares if it's inefficient? That's a fucking feature if you're trying to lose weight.

    Second of all, lots of things can lead to cardiovascular damage. Including being a big fatass - which causes a lot of other serious health problems. But it hasn't been shown that it does lead to cardiovascular damage, period. Some people have speculated that it does so, but there are no long-term studies of the diet. What we do know is that peoples of the world who have traditionally eaten much in the way of carbohydrates tend to be obese. You can see this tendency today amongst Italians, who tend toward obesity (especially later in life.) It was observed in the 1800s among said peoples as well as among residents of the Caribbean who also traditionally ate a diet centered around carbohydrates.

    We also know that the diets eaten by primitive humans were generally closer to the atkins diet than anything we eat today. These people were hunter-gatherers and had access primarily to some green vegetables relatively low in carbohydrates, and to meat, as well as nuts and some seasonal fruits. So during harvest times they'd eat some carbs, but through the winter there was little to live on but what animals you could hunt down. Most humans are evolved to eat like a hunter-gatherer, because selection pressure has been much reduced ever since we settled down to farming and animal husbandry.

    If you really want to lose weight, reduce calorie intake, get more aerobic and anaerobic exercise daily, and change your diet to avoid processed foods.

    I have asthma, so if I engage in aerobic activity, it's not a good thing. Even when I was a kid I could run maybe an eighth of a mile before I was basically incapable of anything more than a shuffling walk. It's probably less these days; after losing all that weight I went off the diet with my now-ex-girlfriend.

    I will not argue that there are no dangers to the diet, of course. If you don't drink enough water on it, bad things can happen to your liver and kidneys. You might even get gall stones, which is what happened to my ex. She was obstinate and didn't want to drink water, simply because she was tired of me being

  • by abb3w ( 696381 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @04:25PM (#18816495) Journal

    Oh, and don't forget the superstition that having sex with a virgin will cure a man of AIDS [].

    And now, a most politically incorrect observation: Barring the development of an effective cure within the next decade or so, societies with large memberships that believe such superstitions will have their populations implode, with the culture likely to follow. This may be thought of a evolution in action: the trait of reliance on a non-scientific worldview is detrimental to survival in a globally-connected environment with urban populations. (The genetic mutation granting AIDS immunity may limit this; however, that gene does not seem to be as common in Africa as in Europe.)

    Now, can we induce the "intelligent design" Christian fundamentalists to self-exterminate via something similar?

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.