HIV, the virus which leads to AIDS and which affects 40 million people across the world, has been seen in detail for the first time by Oxford scientists and their colleagues in Heidelberg and Munich.
The virus, which is around 60 times smaller than a red blood cell, is far too small for normal microscopes. Electron microscopes and X-rays can ‘see’ it, but often give unsatisfactory images because the virus varies so much in size and shape: one of the unique features of HIV is this size variation, which is in contrast to the uniformity of most viruses.
Image courtesy of Oxford University
Professor Stephen Fuller from Oxford’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics and his colleagues used a technique called cryo-electron tomography to look in detail at the morphology of the virus. The technique has been used to see the virus before, but this painstaking attempt reveals the three-dimensional structure for the first time. They took images of the individual viruses from hundreds of different angles. These images were then combined using a computer, giving an unprecedented three-dimensional view of the deadly agent, published in http://www.structure.org/
An HIV particle, like any virus, is not a cell but rather is strands of genetic code wrapped in protein. Viruses invade living cells and take them over by usurping the cell’s genetic code with the virus’s genetic code (which contains the instruction ‘replicate’).
HIV is a particularly successful virus, and the size and shape variability which makes it so hard to image is assumed to play a role in its success. A puzzling question was how HIV, unlike other viruses, managed to be so varied without losing its crucial structure. The new image of the particle gave new insights into that conundrum. Instead of the central region of the virus organising its growth, as in most viruses, the virus membrane and the core interact so that the core stops growing only when it reaches the membrane’s limit. The inner surface of the viral membrane ‘directs’ growth, which keeps the important parts of the structure consistent whilst allowing size variation.
‘This novel mechanism accommodates significant flexibility in lattice growth while ensuring the closure of cores of variable size and shape’, said Professor Fuller. ‘Identifying how the virus grows will allow us to address the formation of this important pathogen and understand how it accommodates its variability. This could inform the development of more effective therapeutic approaches.’
The microscopy was performed at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford and The Max Planck Institut für Biochemie in Martinsried, and was supported by the Wellcome Trust.
The full paper can be found here
bags - bag it!
bins - bin it!
why are they not trying to cure it... instead of finding nmore theraputic measures... you have cure so use it!!!!!!
| Tue 24th Jan 2006 @ 18:03:33
why cure something when you can make billions from people's suffering?
Anonymous | Sat 08th Jul 2006 @ 23:04:47
Me parece que el virus del SIDA es un cofactor y que en realidad el comportamiento humano es el que conlleva a que el virus se comporte virulentamente en la persona que lo mantiene en su sangre.
Anonymous | Sun 30th Jul 2006 @ 01:32:57
No virus in the history of mankind has ever had a cure. Your body either beats it, or it doesn't.
All you can do is protect yourself.
Anonymous | Fri 18th Sep 2009 @ 21:27:33
there's an oppostite to everything they will find a reverse to the virus.
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