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Medicine Science

Researchers Zero In On Protein That Destroys HIV 216

Julie188 writes with this excerpt from a Loyola University news release: "Using a $225,000 microscope, researchers have identified the key components of a protein called TRIM5a that destroys HIV in rhesus monkeys. The finding could lead to new TRIM5a-based treatments that would knock out HIV in humans, said senior researcher Edward M. Campbell, PhD, of Loyola University Health System."
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Researchers Zero In On Protein That Destroys HIV

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  • by PocariSweat1991 ( 1651929 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:23PM (#33318286)
    "Hey everybody! We're all gonna get laid!"
  • by Meshach ( 578918 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:26PM (#33318322)
    The specific protein is TRIM5a, and from TFA:

    Humans also have TRIM5a, but while the human version of TRIM5a protects against some viruses, it does not protect against HIV.

    This is exciting but it looks like it has a ways to go before it is a viable treatment for humans.

  • $225,000 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the_banjomatic ( 1061614 ) * on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:26PM (#33318324)

    Sounds like promising research, but I'm confused by why the cost of the microscope is prominently displayed in both the press release and TFS. Is $225,000 considered cheap or expensive for a microscope these days?

    • Yes, our clinic scope costs $2000.00 and it only goes to 400x.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's pretty standard for a high-end confocal microscope. Reading the actual paper:

      there is nothing about a unique microscope setup. University press releases are never a good source of information.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      that's like asking is 20K cheap or expensive for a car.

      It's expenseive for a 20 year old hond civie, cheap for a 2010 Corvette.

      Considering all the money that has gone into finding possible cures, 225,000 is cheap.

    • That's the strange part. It's pretty much an average microscope. It really doesn't make any sense why they're mentioning that. Expensive is more than $1 million. Cheap is less than $100 k.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wish they'd tell us the hair colour of the researchers too since it's probably just as relevant to the article.

  • Cheap microscope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kitten Killer ( 766858 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:27PM (#33318330)

    As a biologist, I have no idea why they're making such a big deal of it being a $225,000 deconvolution microscope. It's cheap compared with what most institutions have. Besides which is the fact that the microscope used isn't interesting. Any high(ish) resolution fluorescent microscope would have given you the same data. The interesting part is this TRIM5a. Let's see what happens with recombinant TRIM5a in animal studies.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rotten ( 8785 )

      I think the idea is to show that some advances are not money dependent. It's interesting to see a development on the enzyme/protein field, it's encouraging and sounds like it's moving in the right direction.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jd ( 1658 )

        I suspect you're right. As for whether it's the right direction, I'm cautious. The virus mutates frighteningly fast and remarkably effectively. (Early vaccines failed because deactivated HIV could reactivate itself. That's bad.) If the researchers have shown the protein has remained effective on SIV in the wild, then it's safer ground - if a close cousin can't mutate around it, there's an excellent chance HIV can't either. As things stand, it's certainly the first candidate since the early vaccine trials th

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I like the way you think. I like the idea of going after the protein capsid in a catalytic manner. The problem is prions are very odd and rare things in themselves.

          Technically speaking, a prion protein has to have a diseased-conformation with a lower thermodynamic energy minima than the the healthy version, otherwise it would require energy input, and thus be non-catalytic. Since most proteins are already folded to minimum energy, it's unlikely you can find a lower energy conformation that has catalytic act

    • Yet pretty dumb. I am no expert but it isn't hard to imagine micro imaging devices costing more than a million.

    • You took the thought right out of my head. If they had used the concave bottom of a broken bottle would the finding be that much more exciting, or not??? What if they had used the most expensive electron imaging scanner and powered it with the nrg equivalent of one year's worth of watt hours that it takes to run Botswana? Would it have been bigger news then?
    • I have no idea why they're making such a big deal of it being a $225,000 deconvolution microscope.

      Don't you know? Money cures AIDS! [] If they can get a more expensive microscope, they are sure to cure it once and for all!

    • by ebuck ( 585470 )

      As a lab tech that discovered something, and then attempted to explain it to a reporter; let me help you out there.

      Reporters love to report the cool, hip, and neeto aspects of Science far more than they love to get the facts right. If it was a $10 microsocope signed by Ozzy Osbourne, the article would have read "Using a microscope signed by Ozzy Osbourne, ...".

      Imagine my shock when I mentioned that one of our tissue sample donors was a marathon runner, and the reporter twisted our kidney malfunction resear

  • And it could kill the human at dose lower than what kill the HIV virus. Wake me up when they are at phase 3 or later.
  • A virus is basically a cellular syringe. Break the syringe by destroying the protein shell that contains the RNA - infection stopped as you can't inject into a cell any longer.

    Just figure out how to do it without making people lose their hair and fingernails. That's the tough part.

    • by mutube ( 981006 )

      It's not quite so straightforward. Not all viruses use a cellular-injection technique to achieve infection - in fact the only virus I can thin of which does is tobacco-mosaic (a plant virus).

      Viruses use all sorts of nifty tricks to get the host cell to take them up - typically by latching onto normally cellular surface proteins in sequence. The multitude of targets adds redundancy while the similarity to host binding proteins means any attempt to attack the virus nay have serious side effects. In fact this

  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Friday August 20, 2010 @04:48PM (#33318622)

    Once HIV is curable, people will find out the hard way that they never did come up with a cure for Herpes.

    • Generally, if you're intelligent enough to fear one STD, you're intelligent enough to fear all of them. I find it hard to imagine someone whose promiscuity hinges on the existence of a cure for just one of them.

      • Generally, if you're intelligent enough to fear one STD, you're intelligent enough to fear all of them. I find it hard to imagine someone whose promiscuity hinges on the existence of a cure for just one of them.

        Well, one kills you and the other doesn't. High-order risk vs low-order risk. Combine that with human nature, and I bet you'll see a massive resurgence in Herpes cases once HIV is cured.

        • by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @06:03PM (#33319550) Journal

          Why be scared of only one life-threatening illness? Hepatitis still kills you. Syphilis will still kill you, if you don't get the antibiotics. Chlamydia and gonorrhea suck, even if they don't kill you. HPV might kill you, if you're female.

          To make things more interesting, consider that people didn't start banging everything in sight once penicillin gave us the ability to cure syphilis.

          Your hypothesis would only be true if people had tunnel-vision and were under the impression that HIV is the only high-risk disease that is transmitted sexually. I postulate that those who are scared of the life-threatening consequences of HIV will continue to be scared of the life-threatening consequences from other infections. Those who might have more sex once they knew they are now safe from HIV would probably have the same amount of sex in the absence of any cure for HIV.

          The only caveat may be the gay male community. They are somewhat more HIV conscious than your average hetero folks. But most straight folks I know are terrified of all STDs, even the ones that can be cured.

          • They did, however, start banging everything in sight once the birth control pill gave us the ability to cure parenthood.
      • Um. Aids is fatal. Herpes is annoying. There's just a *little* difference. (Sorry this is a repeat comment - Mod me down if you must).

        • Hepatitis C is fatal in much the same way as HIV.

          Syphilis can be fatal, without antibiotics.

          HPV can be fatal, if you develop cervical cancer.

          Herpes, while not fatal, is more than "annoying". It's a lifelong infection. Good luck finding potential mates with that.

          Chlamydia, scabies, and gonorrhea...okay, they're curable and won't kill you. So I guess I can see where you might refer to them as "annoying".

          But I still stand by my point that anyone who is intelligent enough to be scared of HIV is intelligent e

  • there will be strains in circulation that the protein doesn't affect.

    HIV mutates fast. For more discussion of HIV (and a lot of rude comments by an HIV researcher [1]) check out Abbie Smith's blog [].

    [1] Yes, she's young and (very) good looking. And has a dog that you could saddle for rodeo.

  • Hot Damn! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Petersko ( 564140 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:03PM (#33318796)
    We're one step closer to the day I can go find the freakiest, dirtiest, most disease-laden slut and hire her to do nasty, nasty things... and simply go for a single shot afterwards.

    I'm turning 40, though, so they'd better get on with it. If my emails are to be believed, I have only another thirty or forty years until pills no longer facilitate my erections.
    • We're one step closer to the day I can go find the freakiest, dirtiest, most disease-laden slut and hire her to do nasty, nasty things... and simply go for a single shot afterwards.

      Quagmire? is that you? [] [Sound warning]

  • by Rooked_One ( 591287 ) on Friday August 20, 2010 @05:17PM (#33318966) Journal
    the anti-bacterial resistant gonorrhea



    Hepatitis C

    The last being the worst of them - but if a cure for AIDS is found, i'm sure HVC is right behind it - IIRC, they already use interferon and have a 50/50 success rate to put patients in remission (although the treatment is basically chemotherapy... so makes you feel like poop)
  • Not going to happen because even if you sale cure for aids for $10,000 - you can only make $10,000 per patient, once, and the number of your customers will decrease with every sale you make, until there are none left... selling relief medicine - you could make tens of thousands dollars a year, and your client base will grow exponentially so long as people keep having sex. It's just plain business sense why cures for many diseases have not been discovered.

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra