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Could Glowing Cats Be The Key To Finding A Cure For HIV?

Photo courtesy of the Mayo Clinic Scientists have added a new species to the menagerie of animals that glow, after introducing jellyfish genes into cats that can now glow green.

Scientists report that they transferred genes from monkeys (and jellyfish) into cats in order to study feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), the cat equivalent of HIV. In cats and in people, immunodeficiency viruses deplete infection-fighting T-cells. Key proteins called restriction factors that would normally defend against the viruses are ineffective. The research appears in the September issue of Nature Methods.

To research potential treatments, physicians, virologists, veterinarians and gene therapy researchers from the Mayo Clinic and in Japan sought to mimic the way evolution would generate protective protein versions, according to a Mayo Clinic press release. They inserted monkey versions of a gene into the cat genome using gamete-targeted lentiviral transgenesis. This is done by inserting genes into feline eggs before sperm fertilization.

The monkey restriction factor, TRIMCyp, blocks FIV by attacking and disabling the virus as it tries to invade a cell. In the lab, the transgenic cat lymphocytes resisted FIV replication. The scientists said that they can now test the potential of various restriction factors for Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Teleporting The DNA Of HIV?

Luc Montagnier received the 2008 Nobel Prize for his discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), but now he’s come up with a more-than-strange theory. He thinks DNA can teleport from one tube to another via electromagnetic signals. Is this the so-called “Nobel disease?”

French virologist Luc Montagnier stunned his colleagues at a prestigious international conference when he presented a new method for detecting viral infections that bore close parallels to the basic tenets of homeopathy.

Although fellow Nobel prize winners — who view homeopathy as quackery — were left openly shaking their heads, Montagnier’s comments were rapidly embraced by homeopaths eager for greater credibility.

Montagnier told the conference last week that solutions containing the DNA of pathogenic bacteria and viruses, including HIV, “could emit low frequency radio waves” that induced surrounding water molecules to become arranged into “nanostructures.” These water molecules, he said, could also emit radio waves.

He suggested water could retain such properties even after the original solutions were massively diluted, to the point where the original DNA had effectively vanished. In this way, he suggested, water could retain the “memory” of substances with which it had been in contact — and doctors could use the emissions to detect disease.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Sounds Of HIV: Genetic Code, Musically Translated

A few months ago, Alexandra Pajak, a graduate student at the University of Georgia, contacted me about an album of music based on the DNA of the HIV virus she was about to release. I feel lucky that the album is just on its way to my CD player right now.

You can buy the album on Amazon (release date is October 26.) Note that some of the proceeds will go to the Emory Vaccine Center, which conducts research for an HIV vaccine. If you wonder how it was made, here’s the explanation:

Sounds of HIV is a musical translation of the genetic code of HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus. Every segment of the virus is assigned music pitches that correspond to the segment’s scientific properties. In this way, the sounds reflect the true nature of the virus. When listening from beginning to end, the listener hears the entire genome of HIV.

In English, the nucleotides Adenine, Cytosine, Uracil/Thymine, and Guanine are abbreviated with the letters A, C, T, and G. Since A, C, and G are also musical pitches in the Western melodic scale, these pitches were assigned to the matching nucleotides. To form two perfect fifths (C-G and D-A), “D” was arbitrarily assigned to musically represent Uracil. I assigned the pitches of the A minor scale to the amino acids based on their level of attraction to water.

On Sounds of HIV, depending on the track, only nucleotides and/or amino acids “play” as music. Tracks 1 and 10 are based on the first and last nucleotides of the RNA chain. Tracks 2-9 “play” the proteins and sometimes the nucleotides on top of the proteins.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

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