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Another method to silence viruses .

  1. Nov 4, 2014 #1

    Sorry, if it's in the wrong forum, is this method feasible?. I know in the genetic code, there are many stretches that resemble virus code(apparently silenced) , it's quite interesting they are using that as a starting point to try to silence Hiv.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 6, 2014 #2
    You can genetically alter a virus to stop it from causing further harm. Just like flu vaccines people inactivate the virus' capability to multiply (genetically alter) and make a "cure."
  4. Nov 7, 2014 #3
    Feasible in theory, but it depends on where HIV hide and if they can get it to work. The interviewed scientists were skeptical on both accounts, I take it. So it places among the large class of "extraordinary claims without even ordinary evidence."

    FWIW, this is confusing the genome with the genetic code, which is the rules that are followed in producing proteins out of the genome. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_code ]
  5. Nov 7, 2014 #4


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    Human cells contain a protein called APOBEC3G that's part of our innate anti-viral defenses. This protein recognizes single-stranded DNA (an intermediate produced in the lifecycle of retroviruses), and causes mutations in the DNA in the hope of inactivating the virus. Most retroviruses, including HIV, however, have evolved a protein known as Vif that helps to destroy APOBEC3G before it can act on the viral DNA. It would be interesting to see how the cells in the patients with the silenced HIV got around the action of Vif.

    There has been some work developing similar ideas for HIV therapy. Earlier this year, a group reported using genome enginnering tools to inactivate integrated provirus, essentially creating an silenced virus as seen in the patients of the study reported by the OP (subsequent work has used the genome enginneering tools to fully cut the integrated virus out of infected cells).

    However, we're still very far away from using these genome engineering tools as therapeutics. A major challenge (in addition to proving that they're safe and won't induce mutations in other regions of the genome) is figuring out how to deliver them to all infected cells. If some population of cells escapes editing, viral infection can arise from that small population of untreated cells.
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