Saturday, March 28, 2009

Scary Virus Video is A Miracle of Basic Science.

From Joe.My.God.'s blog:

An astonishing new video shows for the first time how HIV attacks and infects healthy immune cells. This glimpse has provided researchers with some new ideas.
Before you look at the video, I wanted to point to a comment someone made, that the reason this research was possible was because scientists somewhere decided they wanted to study genes to find out what made certain sea life glow. By finding this gene, they were able to insert it into a virus, which made it possible to take pictures of the AIDS virus actively infecting a cell.

Here's the comment, a reader named in60657:

You can probably thank Martin Chalfie, Osamu Shimoura, and Roger Tsien. They won the 2008 Nobel prize in Chemistry for the green flourescent protein discovered by Shimoura in 1960 in a jellyfish. Chalfie was able to insert the gene into another organism and Tsien expanded it to flouresce in different colors. This technique is also used in cancer research.

This also illustrates how something that seems silly on the surface (why does this jellyfish glow) and is used mainly by Republicans to attack science, can have far reaching and positive influences on the health of everyone.
From the article:
Researchers found that the virus is transferred from infected cells to healthy ones in a previously unknown way. It is hoped that the discovery will help researchers create a vaccine to combat the virus, which has led to the deaths of more than 25 million people.

The study was made possible after experts created a molecular clone of infectious HIV and inserted a protein into its genetic code which glows green when exposed to blue light. This allowed scientists to see the cells on digital video, and capture the way HIV-infected T-cells interact with uninfected ones.

They noted that when an infected cell came into contact with a healthy one, a bridge was created between them, called a virological synapse. Researchers were then able to observe the fluorescent green viral particles moving towards the synapse and into the healthy cell.

The US study has broken new ground by revealing that it is the synapse through which the viral proteins are gathered and moved into uninfected cells. The team, comprising scientists from UC Davis university in California, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, believe that this knowledge could help create new treatments for HIV and Aids.

The scariest of horror movies. (Add spooky music.)

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