BioQuakes

AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: Virus (Page 2 of 2)

Protein Might Help Fight Deadly Diseases

The enzyme “Cholesterol-25-Hydroxylase,” or CH25H, might help fight against human viruses such as Rift Valley Fever, Niphah and HIV. CH25H converts cholesterol to an oxysterol called 25HC, which can permeate a cell’s wall to prevent a virus from getting in. The CH25H enzyme is activated by interferon, an anti-viral cell signaling protein produced in the body.  Researchers have known that interferon has been part of the body’s defense mechanism against viruses, though it does not have any antiviral properties itself.

This discovery is revolutionary because other antiviral genes have not been able to be used for treatment of viruses in humans. According to Yang Lui, a student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, most antiviral genes are difficult to use in therapy because the genes are difficult for cells to express. However, CH25H is different because it is naturally synthesized.

HIV Replication within a cell

The discovery of CH25H is relevant to the efforts to develop broad antivirals against an increase of emerging pathogens. In a collaboration with Dr. Lee, another UCLA professor, it was discovered that the 25HC produced from CH25H can inhibit HIV growth in vivo. The researchers initially found that 25HC inhibited HIV growth in cultures. When implanted mice with human tissues, the 25HC reduced the HIV in within 7 days and reversed T-Cell depletion caused by the HIV. It was also discovered that 25HC inhibited the growth of other diseases such as Rift Valley Fever Virus and Ebola.

There are still some weaknesses with the study. It’s difficult to deliver 25HC in the large doses needed to fight viruses. Researchers also need to compare 25HC to other antiviral HIV treatments.

Understanding HIV, one protein at a time

By NIAID/NIH (NIAID Flickr’s photostream) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In a recent study, scientists at Johns Hopkins University have narrowed down a list of 25 human proteins that HIV viruses target the most. The scientists started by studying the HIV-1virus, which is the most infectious and most common type of HIV. They knew that the virus clings to proteins and membrane as it emerges from an infected human cell in order to disguise itself from the human immune system, but inquired as to whether it was a random process or not. They then searched for types of proteins that they targeted the most, using the HIV-1.

They virus tends to target the CD4+ T cells and microphages which both migrate to sites of inflammation. This makes sense because HIV targets the immune system and  the virus can wait to attack while disguised by these cells. They originally identified 279 proteins that this virus in particular targeted when isolating the HIV-1 with CD4+ T cells, but when they crossed the data from two different cell types, they found that only 25 proteins were shared by viruses from both cell types!

This is an extremely interesting and groundbreaking discovery because of the possibilities behind this discovery. If we can figure out the types of proteins these HIV viruses are hiding behind, we could target and destroy them which could possibly lead to the abolition of HIV.

Is All the Hype Around This Years Flu True, or Is The Government Just Trying To Kill Us?

In December(2012) 9 polio vaccination workers in Pakistan in were murdered. And just last week 7 men and women that were on their way home from work at a community health center in Pakistan were shot dead.  Do you notice a trend?

Urban legends and conspiracy theories are what provoked people to think that these health workers need to be killed.  Due to various reasons, discussed in this article, people have been lead to believe that there are malicious motives behind their medical acts and patients resist medical treatment in fear of being killed for their organs or being poisoned with a fake vaccine. The illegitimate distrust from the patients can originate because the doctor is foreign(usually Western) or a lot wealthier then the patients.

But there is some justifiable skepticism about these doctors. In an interview Dr. Jehuda Hiss, head of Israel’s main forensic institute, stated that in the 1990’s, body parts were taken from dead bodies(of Israelis, Palestinians, and others) without consent and were transplanted into Israeli soldiers.  Although the Israeli military said they stopped the illegal taking of organs 10 years ago, people still believe that doctors will let their patients die rather then help them because their organs will be beneficial to them. People have been resistant to getting vaccines since the late 1700’s, after the creation of the smallpox vaccine.The fact that a vaccine injection actually puts bacteria or a virus into your body is scary and illegitimate to many. The article mentions a true incidence of doctor with ulterior motives.  “A Pakistani doctor who was hired by the Central Intelligence Agency to give out a hepatitis B vaccine was actually trying to collect DNA samples from bin Laden’s suspected compound to verify his presence.”

Although there are rare cases of these myths holding truth, a doctors medical assistance will almost always be in the patients’ best interest and health. Do you think the government is keeping things from us and our actual doctors appointments are much more then just a check up?

Medical students and staff at Tripler Army Medical Center

Photographer: Army Medicin
Licensing: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

 

Main Article: http://www.livescience.com/26108-medical-urban-legends-kill.html

Secondary Articles: http://www.livescience.com/5955-body-part-theft-truth-myth.html and http://www.dovaccinescausethat.com/

Picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/armymedicine/6382971901/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

New Deadly Virus Discoved in Africa

Recently an article was released summarizing the discovery of a new disease in Africa. In 2009 a fifteen year old boy in a small village in the Democratic Republic of the Congo fell ill. The initial symptoms were malaise and a bloody nose, but quickly the boy developed an acute hemorrhagic fever. Within two days of the showing symptoms the boy died. Approximately eleven days later a thirteen year old girl who went to the same school as Patient One developed similar symptoms, and died three days later. At the local health center which both Patients One and Two visited, a thirty-two year old male nurse began to experience identical symptoms. He was moved to the hospital in Boma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the doctors drew blood and began to test for known viruses; they found nothing. However, very recently a research team used deep sequencing to determine the pathogen,which they dubbed “Bas-Congo Virus”, and posted their results in the Public Library of Science Journal. It was discovered that the virus belonged to the Rhabdoviridae family, best known for the Rabies virus. Interestingly enough, though, the Bas-Congo virus only shares 34% of the amino acids found in other Rhabdoviruses, meaning that it is very different. The discovery of this virus may end up being of great importance due to the possibility that the virus may return. In any case, we will have one less pathogen on this planet to identity lest there be another, more deadly, outbreak.

Tricky Viruses

Photo Credit: Foto_di_Signorina Flickr

           Strong viruses, such as HIV, make the body work for them. Researchers in Copenhagen have been studying how these viruses manage to take over the body. The virus takes over one cell and then uses the RNA to influence the DNA, giving the virus complete control over the cell. The RNA of the virus is similar to the RNA of the cell. Therefore, the ribosomes of the cell copy the sequence from the virus instead of the actual RNA. This causes the cell to produce the virus’ proteins.

                The RNA of the virus has what is called a pseudoknot. Pseudoknots are places on the RNA that the ribosomes must decipher before it can move on. The pseudoknot holds the sequence for key destructive proteins of the virus and once the ribosome deciphers it, those proteins are produced. This is how HIV can spread so rapidly in the body and can take such a hold over the host; it doesn’t do any of the work.

Antibodies to the Rescue!

Photo Credit: RambergMediaImages Flickr

 

 

HIV is an extremely dangerous virus because our own antibodies cannot effectively attack it. HIV uses a coat of sugars to hide itself from our antibodies. Although the body cannot effectively fight HIV, it does its best by making new antibodies to try and attack this powerful virus. These new antibodies attach to different spots on the sugar coating of the virus. It uses the sugar coat to bind to a site on the virus where amino acids are exposed. Then the antibody attacks the virus from that site, disabling it.

 

The discovery of this antibody and the way it binds to the virus is important because it can lead to advances in a cure and a vaccine. It gave scientists key information about binding sites made out of sugars and amino acids. They can use this information, as well as information from other projects and discoveries to make a more effective vaccine. In fact, some recent tests have shown that the antibodies play an important role in the health of someone infected with HIV.

Page 2 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Skip to toolbar