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Medicine Biotech

Researchers Discover Gene That Blocks HIV 333

stemceller writes to tell us that a team of researchers at the University of Alberta claims to have discovered a gene capable of blocking HIV thereby preventing the onset of full blown AIDS. "Stephen Barr, a molecular virologist in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, says his team has identified a gene called TRIM22 that can block HIV infection in a cell culture by preventing the assembly of the virus. 'When we put this gene in cells, it prevents the assembly of the HIV virus," said Barr, a postdoctoral fellow. "This means the virus cannot get out of the cells to infect other cells, thereby blocking the spread of the virus.'"
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Researchers Discover Gene That Blocks HIV

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  • by MichaelCrawford ( 610140 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @04:26PM (#22611328) Homepage Journal
    I'd be interested to know if this explains the phenomenon, discovered a few years ago, that some rare individuals seem to be immune to HIV despite repeatedly engaging in unsafe sex.

  • What?!? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Idiot with a gun ( 1081749 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @04:55PM (#22611500)
    No radicals screaming "If we vaccinate everyone now, everyone will feel free to go and have promiscuous sex!"? I'm disappointed.
  • by ruinevil ( 852677 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @04:59PM (#22611520)
    Obviously our bodies makes TRIM22 to fight against retroviruses already, and it's not good enough. I know that interferon, which activates TRIM22, was an early drug in the fight against HIV. []

    According to this study, TRIM22 is one of most ineffectual TRIM proteins.

  • by ruinevil ( 852677 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:07PM (#22611560)

    According to this study, TRIM22 is one of most ineffectual TRIM proteins against HIV.
    It's probably good against something, since it was positively selected over mammalian evolution.
  • Re:Holy crap! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikael ( 484 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:08PM (#22611570)
    That's nothing new to the industry - I was watching an old Horizon documentary from the 1980's on genetic research - one of the interviewed researched stated that "Every time there is a new discovery in genetic research, there is always the assumption that this is the final piece of the jigsaw put into place. Invariably this is proved to be not the case." There is always another receptor/gene/protein found that has a moderating effect on whatever interaction is being studied.
  • by KillerBob ( 217953 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:14PM (#22611590)

    In the end, my opinion as a virologist is that stopping the spread of HIV, and continuing to develop a larger palette of inhibitors are the proper solutions to the HIV problem. If we treat the people who have been infected, and don't infect any more... HIV will not be a problem after 2 generations.

    You'd be a good person to ask this one of, then.... is there any truth to the theory that over time, humans will develop a natural immunity to HIV in the same way that cats have largely developped immunity to Feline Leukemia and FIV?
  • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:16PM (#22611614)
    Well, I think you've hit the nail on the head. But consider this - your argument essentially boils down to saying that healthcare is a human right. And for those who are about to spew bile at me for saying that, please read the rest of the post.

    Let's compare healthcare to food, for instance. In the civilized world, it's a nearly universal agreement, that people should have enough food to survive. Hence, the different forms of welfare programs, food stamps, etc... We provide people who are poor, with enough money or money equivalents, to obtain sufficient sustenance. We don't, however, provide them with 5-course chef-prepared meals every night.

    The problem is, however, that people who flame the government and "corporations" for not providing medication for everyone, are essentially suggesting that we provide full healthcare for everyone... which equates to giving out filet mignon welfare, given the costs of many cutting edge drugs and treatments. Now I don't have a problem with the concept of this "filet mignon welfare"... except that I cannot personally afford it... and neither can you.

    So as a society, we will at some point have to face the realization that we cannot provide the highest quality healthcare to every member of our society, no matter how hard we try. I wish I had the solution to this problem, but I do not. If I come up with one, I promise to share it with the world, as there is nothing more I'd like to see, than a world where the only diseases people die of, are ones for which cures and treatments haven't been discovered yet. But that's not a world of today, nor do I envision such a world in the near future.
  • Re:Holy crap! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:18PM (#22611622)

    That research lab at Alberta is know for releasing under-researched findings before complete testing is applied.
    Is it? The parent is "insightful" for making unsubstantiated accusations of acodemic impropriety with their research, yet provides no links or another kind of support, yet it's "insightful"?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:44PM (#22611748)
    I dislike GWB as much (if not more) than the next person, but which is better?
    A larger but weaker campaign? (Bush)
    A smaller but stronger campaign? (Clinton)
    Of course the answer is "C" - a larger and unhandicapped campaign - and hopefully in twelve months we'll see one.
  • Re:Holy crap! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @05:58PM (#22611826) Homepage
    *sigh* he's saying that this is one thing we might change on the program. A patch for the human code, say.

    We only have a small problem ... the program is stored in a few trillion copies (all of which need to be changed), of extremely complex molecules (which we can't reliable modify (we can't even reliably read them) even when we have only 1 outside of the body).

    Let's say it's this way. We have a patch for a flaw in your windows. Except it's on paper. And the computers won't boot until the patch is applied, so we need to take out the hard drive and *manually* change the bits on it. We have an electron microscope that *sometimes* has been used to change some random bits on the harddrive, which has once or twice resulted in a "mostly" correct change. Oh yes, and we have a billion computers, all of which still need to be operational after the change.

    That's where we are. We know what to change (or so we hope), it's just ... "a bit" hard to get to the bits.
  • by Paltin ( 983254 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @06:23PM (#22611986)
    1. CCR5 delta 32 is not super common, with a gene frequency of about .1 across Europe as a whole and maxing at about .23 in Ashkenaz jews. Evidence indicates that the black plague ceased to be common because of human resistance to it; which means that a gene frequency of .1 would not protect a whole population, which means it can't be the sole cause of surviving black plague.

    2. You need two copies of CCR5 delta 32 for it to truly protect someone, .1 x .1 = .01 , so about 1% of European are immune to HIV as a result of CCR5 delta 32. In the context of 'today', this is almost completely insignificant.

    3. There is evidence []that bubonic plague could not produce the selective pressure necessary to spread CCR5 delta 32 widely, and smallpox is implicated instead.
  • Re:Holy crap! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cpricejones ( 950353 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @06:49PM (#22612132)
    No. TRIM5alpha has been in the news for quite some time. It's a gene carried by old world monkeys that prevent them from getting HIV. The human version of TRIM5alpha has a mutation which does not protect us from HIV but does protect us from other types of viruses (it's thought). There are experiments that show that TRIM5alpha prematurely disassembles the capsid cores of HIV particles as they are infecting cells. These cores contain the viral RNA as it is being made into viral DNA for insertion into the host cell genome.

    So you can imagine the interest in TRIM genes and proteins. Just Pubmed TRIM5alpha and you'll see many articles. TRIM22 is probably a homologue of TRIM5alpha. The article does not seem to mention anything about TRIM5alpha probably because it makes it seem like their work has already been done. See below for the original finding: []
  • Re:Fundies unite! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by groslyunderpaid ( 950152 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @06:52PM (#22612160)
    I'm a 'conservative'. Not Far right, but a little right. I'm also a non practicing evangelical.

    I personally believe all sickness is a punishment on mankind for original sin, for we were immortal and perfect in the beginning. Just my belief, you may have your own.

    To suggest that a human would try to block the research of a cure/vaccine for HIV because they believe it is punishment on homosexuals is absurd. That person isn't a fundamentalist, they are retarded.

    Given unlimited time, human intelligence would reach GOD-like proportions. Just read the first couple chapters of Genesis. Satan told Eve just enough truth to get her to believe a lie. If we don't nuke ourselves off the map first, we will eventually cure/stop HIV.

    However, history/evolution/biblical teaching all suggest that if and when we do so, another sickness will eventually arrive on the scene that is just as deadly or worse.
  • Re:Holy crap! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @07:57PM (#22612516) Journal
    We already have the gene, we just need to make sure it gets turned on to stop our cells from make HIV and possibley other retroviruses
  • Re:Holy crap! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by westcoaster004 ( 893514 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @08:22PM (#22612636)
    Actually, German researchers have reported [] that DNA vaccines may be deliverable via a tattoo gun. Whether they use a plasmid or a virus of whatever sort (not that deadly really) to deliver the DNA is still another question, but doing it effectively on a rather large scale would become feasible with this technique.
  • Re:Holy crap! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gripen40k ( 957933 ) on Saturday March 01, 2008 @08:48PM (#22612766)
    You are totally right here, as it stands it would be nearly impossible to completely 'cure' someone with HIV. However, I think what might be more important is that we could potentially be able to treat human embryos while there are only a few cells that need changing. These changes would hopefully be carried through as they replicate.

    I shouldn't have to point out the multitude of issues brought up by creating a new 'race' of humans that are immune to HIV; there are so many other things that could go wrong with slice-and-dicing the human genome that we probably won't see the tangible results of this early experiment for many, many years to come. Despite this, it is a reassuring step forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 01, 2008 @09:19PM (#22612862)
    Dude, you're so wrong.

    Allocation of any particular resource is simply a special case of the general capital allocation problem.

    So this is how it works. There's two ways to allocate resources: both have been thoroughly tested across multiple economies with wide ranges of GDP:

    (1) In the first case, a central planning committee allocates available capital across research and production projects. After providing some small benefit to the effective managers who produced the profit capital, profits are then returned to the central planning committee for re-allocation.

    There are two sub-cases regarding how the central planning committee allocates capital: (a) The capital is allocated with rigorous oversight with the single-minded goal of maximizing return, meaning essentially that effective managers get more capital to manage, while weak managers get less. This is controllable and highly efficient for society, and describes the massive centrally planned economies of Singapore and IBM, for example. Or (b) the capital is allocated according to some social ideology about "what is fair". This results in weak managers who adhere to ideology being rewarded, while effective managers who produce profits regardless of ideology are penalized or at best tolerated. This is highly inefficient and devastating for society. This describes the economies of Cuba and the former USSR, for example.

    (2) In the second case, individual owners of capital allocate it across research and production projects with the single-minded goal of maximizing return. This results in the most effective investors getting more capital to invest, while weak investors get less. This is controllable and highly efficient for society, and incidentally is the only mechanism that can lead to the efficient centrally planned economies of (1)(a) above. This describes the economies of the USA or Western Europe, for example.

    I suggest you learn the pattern: capital allocation to maximize return is efficient, and benefits society. Capital allocation for some arbitrary sense of "fairness" results in widespread poverty and despair, and is, as a rule, only suggested by those who are themselves utterly incompetent.



"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI