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Prehistoric Gene Reawakened To Battle HIV

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the learning-from-our-distant-cousins dept.

Biotech 360

Linuss points out research published in PLoS Biology that demonstrates the reawakening of latent human cells' ability to manufacture an HIV defense. A group of scientists led by Nitya Venkataraman began with the knowledge that Old World monkeys have a built-in immunity to HIV: a protein that can prevent HIV from entering cell walls and starting an infection. They examined the human genome for any evidence of a latent gene that could manufacture such a protein, and found the capability in a stretch of what has been dismissively termed "junk DNA." "In this work, we reveal that, upon correction of the premature termination codon in theta-defensin pseudogenes, human myeloid cells produce cyclic, antiviral peptides (which we have termed 'retrocyclins'), indicating that the cells retain the intact machinery to make cyclic peptides. Furthermore, we exploited the ability of aminoglycoside antibiotics to read-through the premature termination codon within retrocyclin transcripts to produce functional peptides that are active against HIV-1. Given that the endogenous production of retrocyclins could also be restored in human cervicovaginal tissues, we propose that aminoglycoside-based topical microbicides might be useful in preventing sexual transmission of HIV-1."

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Prehistoric? (5, Funny)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987151)

Praise Raptor Jesus!

Re:Prehistoric? (4, Funny)

oracleofbargth (16602) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987441)

Aargh. Is this -1 Troll, or +1 Funny? /* brain explodes */

Prehistoric Gene FTW! (5, Insightful)

Snotman (767894) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987201)

AIDS is pwned. Good for us and our "junk" DNA. One man's junk is another man's treasure!

Re:Prehistoric Gene FTW! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987239)

Just don't stick your junk in the wrong treasure and you'll be fine.

Re:Prehistoric Gene FTW! (5, Funny)

bgillespie (1228056) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987689)

Yarr... Indeed, but don't forget to mention cursed booty.

Re:Prehistoric Gene FTW! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987715)

What if junk is your treasure?

Re:Prehistoric Gene FTW! (5, Funny)

kalirion (728907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987243)

One man's junk is another man's treasure!

I'll just treasure my own junk, thank you very much.

Re:Prehistoric Gene FTW! (5, Funny)

TheTick21 (143167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987615)

You're posting on /.

It goes without saying that you're the only one to treasure your junk.

Re:Prehistoric Gene FTW! (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987635)

Yeah, turns out there's all kinds of amazing opportunities [dresdencodak.com] hidden in our junk DNA. A cure for AIDS, and chances to Win Fabulous Prizes!

Re:Prehistoric Gene FTW! (5, Funny)

Garbad Ropedink (1542973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987801)

Unfortunately no. By using the 'pwned' in reference to a potentially major scientific breakthrough you've actually made AIDS mutate to become airborne and highly contagious.

It's called the 'Nantucket Principle'. Where using idiotic phrases in reference to intelligent work causes the work to be destroyed.

Another case of this principle at work was when the Wright brothers tried their first airplane prototype. Just before they were going to do their first test flight Orville said something to the effect of 'We are going to codfloddle this strumpet!' which caused Bernoulli's principle to completely change, setting flight back many years.

So you have to watch it.

The Dilemma (5, Funny)

geegel (1587009) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987213)

I don't know what's scarier: the fact that a story with this sort of language made it to the front page or the fact that I understood it completely.

Re:The Dilemma (2, Interesting)

Raleel (30913) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987261)

go read the abstract. I understood that and was thinking the same thing. also along with an obligatory holy shit that's awesome.

Re:The Dilemma (1)

jerep (794296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987273)

If you're scared of being smart, you're up for a big surprise!

Re:The Dilemma (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987297)

The thing that's bothering me is that of all the big words in that summary, the only one I understood was "cervicovaginal".

Re:The Dilemma (3, Funny)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987299)

I'm glad that people like you are around. As the typical Slashdot IT/computer geek, it means a great deal to me to rub shoulders with intelligent people in specialized fields. *respeck knucks*

Re:The Dilemma (1)

Nyall (646782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987339)

Congratulations, You know what 'cervicovaginal tissues' means.

Re:The Dilemma (5, Funny)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987373)

So they uncommented the gene in 'DNA.xml', and modified its XSL 'DNA2Cell.xsl' so that it would parse again?

How cool is that?

Re:The Dilemma (4, Funny)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987443)

So they uncommented the gene in 'DNA.xml', and modified its XSL 'DNA2Cell.xsl' so that it would parse again?

If there is a bio-chemist stupid enough use XSL in a production environment... damn that's a scary thought.

Re:The Dilemma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987697)

Unfortunately, I'm not knowledgeable enough to make use of this, but wouldn't a more accurate example be the modification of a corrupted end-of-exe indicator (either in the header file of an exe or at the end of data on the hard drive)?

Though, I guess it's a lot less likely to have your DNA overwritten if your OS thinks a strand ends earlier than it does than it is for computers...
In this case, their hack could be a-likened to a custom program that executes an executable past the incorrect limitation. Ironically the software not only works correctly, as desired, but it also doesn't conflict with updates in the rest of the software. (I'm sure they'll find some bugs though... I wonder how a human fetus would develop with this code enabled from the start?)

Someone teach me. Going ogling didn't help. :(

Re:The Dilemma (3, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987699)

Unfortunately, Microsoft just got a patent on it.

Re:The Dilemma (1)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987395)

Can you make an analogy involving cars? That would be usefull to many people here.

Re:The Dilemma (5, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987487)

Can you make an analogy involving cars? That would be usefull to many people here.

They've finally found a use for the tail fins on a 1962 Impala. Now they're looking in junk yards to find some good copies of them and plan to weld them on to next year's Prius.

Re:The Dilemma (1)

KnightMB (823876) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987563)

Can you make an analogy involving cars? That would be usefull to many people here.

There was a flaw in the 1985 Delorean flux capacitor that would teleport you 99 years into the past when struck by lightning while in hover mode in the mid air. It was later discovered that the Delorean had a lightning rod built into the back that was never extended, and thus by activating the legacy lightning rod code (extending it upwards), it would defend against mid air lightning attacks.

A good analogy is like a leaky screw-driver, glad I could help.

That's what they think of us. (3, Funny)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987473)

You'll feel even better next time you ask them to open a command prompt and ping something to check the network.

Silly scientists think they can out geekword us.

Re:The Dilemma (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987595)

The fact that you understood it completely just shows that you don't have to worry about HIV's sexual transmission. Instead if you didn't grasp a word of it, and spoke ghetto slang, and had a myspace page, you should actually be very happy as they found a cure for HIV so you can keep living your sexually promiscuous life.

Typo in Summary (1)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987653)

I'm not telling where it is though.

Wow, a new approach. (1, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987221)

Maybe I just haven't been keeping up with the news on HIV research, but this would seem to be a truly novel approach to preventing transmission. Excellent work!

Re:Wow, a new approach. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987447)

Its not a novel approach; its millions of years old! We just forgot how to make the protein :)

Re:Wow, a new approach. (2, Funny)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987821)

The longest I ever spent on a novel was a couple weeks. Millions of years? That's one long novel.....

I do that all the time (5, Funny)

TheTick21 (143167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987229)

/* This code commented out because I'm sure they're going to change their mind and I don't want to redo all the work. */

Re:I do that all the time (4, Funny)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987539)

I've been known to break things by commenting out important sections, but causing AIDS?? Someone is about to have a hell of a performance review.

Re:I do that all the time (1)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987579)

It happens all the time [linuxjournal.com] , or so it seems.

Re:I do that all the time (2, Funny)

TheTick21 (143167) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987693)

I just want to know how this bug got out of testing. You'd think "causes AIDS" would be a showstopper. They probably figured they could patch before the clients noticed.

Re:I do that all the time (2, Funny)

cabjf (710106) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987549)

/* This code has been commented out because it causes major bugs in the system. Will fix later. */

Re:I do that all the time (4, Funny)

Razalhague (1497249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987813)

Nah, I bet it's

/* seems to work faster without this */

Junk DNA? (-1)

notarockstar1979 (1521239) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987247)

Is that like junk in the trunk? Does this mean I should only have sex with women who are endowed with large posteriors?

Re:Junk DNA? (1)

sadness203 (1539377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987435)

Nop, this just mean you could dream about having sex.

Re:Junk DNA? (2, Funny)

oracleofbargth (16602) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987471)

Is that like junk in the trunk? Does this mean I should only have sex with women who are endowed with large posteriors?

Yes! Sir Mixalot was a wise man.

Turning on Monkey DNA? (5, Funny)

turthalion (891782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987249)

So how long till we're all having hot monkey sex with each other? Count me out of turning on any monkey genes in *my* DNA, thank you.

I've seen this [wikipedia.org] episode of ST:TNG, so I *know* how this is all going to end.

Re:Turning on Monkey DNA? (-1, Flamebait)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987357)

Monkey sex already occurs widely in much of Chicago, Detroit, the bad parts of Washington DC, South Central Los Angeles, and Harlem among other places.

In fact, it happens almost exactly like the Star Trek TNG episode you described where Worf (a black man) breaks into Troi (a white woman) 's room and bites her face while he violates her in her own bathtub.

But really, TFA makes no sense. The kind of people who are physically closer to prehistoric are the ones who are spreading all the AIDS, not curing it!

Re:Turning on Monkey DNA? (1)

Trailer Park Boy (825146) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987491)

News flash buddy, all of your genes are monkey genes. Yes, I know you are joking.

This is good news (1)

jerep (794296) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987253)

We still have a lot of our DNA not yet "activated", from what little I know about genetics, every living organism share more or less the same DNA with less than 1% of differences, its which parts that are activated and which ones that are dormant that specify what the being will look like. This also means we're still babies in terms of our evolution.

Correct me if I am wrong.

I for one can't wait for this to happen:
"I dunno how much AIDS scares y'all, but I got a theory: the day they come out with a cure for AIDS, a guaranteed one-shot cure, on that day there's gonna be fucking in the streets, man." - Bill hicks

Re:This is good news (5, Informative)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987349)

We still have a lot of our DNA not yet "activated" ...

If we have it, it must have evolved for a reason. Currently inactive DNA was active in the past. There's just no evolutionary pressure for it to be removed, so it sticks around.

[E]very living organism share [sic] more or less the same DNA with less than 1% of differences ...

Nope: We have a greater-than-1% difference with chimps, our closest living relatives. The Amoeba dubia [wikipedia.org] has more than 200 times the amount of DNA than humans.

Re:This is good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987667)

If you reply, do so only to what I explicitly wrote. If I didn't write it, don't assume or infer it.

So is the above an implied license to imply?

Re:This is good news (4, Informative)

atfrase (879806) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987771)

If we have it, it must have evolved for a reason. Currently inactive DNA was active in the past. There's just no evolutionary pressure for it to be removed, so it sticks around.

You're sort of getting at how evolution works, but I have to nitpick your word choices. The whole idea is that evolution is random and patterns only emerge when those random mutations lead to statistically significant implications for survival and reproduction.

So it's misleading to say anything "evolved for a reason" because evolution isn't an intelligent process -- it doesn't do things because of reasons. It's also not exactly true that "[c]urrently inactive DNA was active in the past" because every generation is bound to produce lots of random genetic mutations which have no impact on our survival, in many cases because they have no impact on our physiology whatsoever. The commented (computer) code analogy is very apt here.

However, what you're hinting at isn't just that "we have it", it's more precisely that "we all have it." The fact that a large portion of the human population all has the same inactive DNA in this position does imply that it was active in the past, and that it was beneficial in the past, because that's the only way the same DNA could end up in every person's genome. If it had never been active or useful, then we would all have had to (randomly) mutate the same useless code in that spot, which would be statistically very improbable.

Re:This is good news (1)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987353)

We still have a lot of our DNA not yet "activated", from what little I know about genetics, every living organism share more or less the same DNA with less than 1% of differences, its which parts that are activated and which ones that are dormant that specify what the being will look like. This also means we're still babies in terms of our evolution.

Correct me if I am wrong.

1. I'm pretty sure there's a lot more than 1% difference between us and anything except (maybe) some of the great apes.
2. "Babies in terms of our evolution" seems to imply there's some kind of predefined ladder we're climbing as we evolve, which isn't how it works.

I for one can't wait for this to happen:
"I dunno how much AIDS scares y'all, but I got a theory: the day they come out with a cure for AIDS, a guaranteed one-shot cure, on that day there's gonna be fucking in the streets, man." - Bill hicks

Yeah, I think Bill's pretty much right on that one--there's definitely going to be some partying going on out there if this is a sure cure.

Re:This is good news (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987569)

The rhythm method will be back in style!!!! OH YEA!

Re:This is good news (1)

JayAitch (1277640) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987845)

I for one can't wait for this to happen:
"I dunno how much AIDS scares y'all, but I got a theory: the day they come out with a cure for AIDS, a guaranteed one-shot cure, on that day there's gonna be fucking in the streets, man." - Bill hicks

Nevermind chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis,herpes, crabs, HPV, Hepatitis.

Translation (I think) (5, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987267)

We reactivated this gene in the lab, and it seemed to work. There's a type of antibiotic that seems to reactivate the gene as well. So applying the antibiotic topically (read "like spermicidal foam/gel) should reactivate the gene in a woman's naughtybits and so fight the virus.

Focused on the woman - good idea. But how does science focus on the man? How about "STOP FUCKING PEOPLE WHO AREN'T YOUR WIFE/GIRLFRIED/SIGNIFIGANT OTHER!"

Re:Translation (I think) (5, Insightful)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987567)

Men were not made for monogamy, your stupid culture made you believe so.

Re:Translation (I think) (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987815)

Men were not made for monogamy, your stupid culture made you believe so.

Is that what you tell all the girls?

Re:Translation (I think) (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987587)

We reactivated this gene in the lab, and it seemed to work. There's a type of antibiotic that seems to reactivate the gene as well. So applying the antibiotic topically (read "like spermicidal foam/gel) should reactivate the gene in a woman's naughtybits and so fight the virus.

Focused on the woman - good idea. But how does science focus on the man? How about "STOP FUCKING PEOPLE WHO AREN'T YOUR WIFE/GIRLFRIED/SIGNIFIGANT OTHER!"

I know for one am looking forward to some hot GIRLFRIED action, mmhmm.

Re:Translation (I think) (1)

just fiddling around (636818) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987741)

Since most humans have more than one SO in their lifetimes (even in the context of strictly respected serial monogamy), your advice is stupid. A similar advice was spouted when AIDS was called GRID [wikipedia.org] : "stop fucking gay men"

I'll leave the proof for you to do as an exercise.

In other news, spermicidal gel can be applied on a penis too.

Re:Translation (I think) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987753)

That's a very strange takeaway. The discovery means we could be looking at a very effective cure for AIDS, and hence even greater freedom to sleep around with fewer consequences.

It sounds to me like this is the exact opposite of your forgone conclusion.

Re:Translation (I think) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987795)

Last time I had a GIRLFRIED the FBI arrested me.

Re:Translation (I think) (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987849)

Whats wrong, can't get any? Can't handle that other guys can hookup with girls and you can't? I guess girls who are raped are also asking for it... because we can't have people enjoying that dirty, sinful sex can we?

Junk is not Junk (1, Insightful)

Poruchik (1004331) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987271)

Junk DNA = We don't really know what it does

Re:Junk is not Junk (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987359)

It's 'Magic/More Magic' all over again...

Science Fiction Movie Plot (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987293)

Someone, desperate, decides to turn on the gene to save someone, and bad things happen...

Re:Science Fiction Movie Plot (2, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987423)

Science fiction???

Simply go for a walk around any UK town or city centre on a Saturday night and you'll see the Neanderthals out in force vomiting into gutters and pushing glasses into each other's faces.

Re:Science Fiction Movie Plot (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987559)

Science fiction???

Simply go for a walk around any UK town or city centre on a Saturday night and you'll see the Neanderthals out in force vomiting into gutters and pushing glasses into each other's faces.

Ah... here in southern Ontario we call them American tourists. (Kidding of course... small town Ontario has clearly proven recently that Neanderthals are alive and well in the new world.)

Re:Science Fiction Movie Plot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987777)

Ah... here in southern Ontario we call them American tourists. (Kidding of course... small town Ontario has clearly proven recently that Neanderthals are alive and well in the new world.)

I find it curious that I could be from Niagara, NY and cross into Niagara, ON and I would be categorized as a tourist?!

Niagara is probably a bad example...Detriot maybe.

No such think as junk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987295)

One man's garbage is another man's treasure. I know I've written code that I end up commenting out for some reason, perhaps because I invent a better way of doing something, or because the feature is canceled. I sometimes end up salvaging that "junk" code because there's use for it, in one form or another.

Only side effect (5, Funny)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987321)

Minor side effect of re-activating the sequence - you become very hairy, lose the ability to walk upright, and have a curious craving to pick through other's hair in search of lice.

Re:Only side effect (5, Funny)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987375)

I see that you've been to a Metallica concert then?

Re:Only side effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987467)

But what happens to people from Kentucky?

Old world monkey (1)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987325)

what is an 'old world' monkey?

Re:Old world monkey (3, Interesting)

AnotherDeadBard (826928) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987401)

Not from South America, if I remember correctly. There's a lot of genetic drift between American monkeys and monkeys found in Africa and Asia.

Re:Old world monkey (4, Funny)

s4ltyd0g (452701) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987429)

For some reason George W Bush springs to mind...

Re:Old world monkey (5, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987433)

New World = America (north and south, not states).

Old World = Africa, Europe, Asia

New WOrld Monkeys are those found in the Americas.

Old World Monkeys are those found in Africa/Europe/Asia

Specifically, Babboons, Colobus, etc.

Old world monkeys usually have tails, but unlike the New World Monkeys, their tails are NOT prehensile (i.e. they can't use them like a tentacle).

P.S. Wikipedia is your friend.

Re:Old world monkey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987803)

New World Monkeys are those found in the Americas.

Yeah, like George Bush. *ba-dum-CHING*

I keed, I keed! :)

Re:Old world monkey (3, Informative)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987439)

Old World Monkey [wikipedia.org]

Re:Old world monkey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987537)

what is an 'old world' monkey?

They usually are found selling used cars, off branded electronics and knock-off cologne in kiosks in Malls. Often answer to Guido or Nunzio!

Did anybody see Jurassic Park? Planet of the Apes (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987337)

I'm just saying...

Seriously, I tried to read the article, but sentences like, "this treatment induced the production of intact, bioactive retrocyclin-1 peptide by human epithelial cells and cervicovaginal tissues," just make my eyes glaze over and think that the peers reviewing this journal are way out of my league.

Re:Did anybody see Jurassic Park? Planet of the Ap (4, Informative)

jhfry (829244) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987827)

To dumb it down for you:

"The mumbo jumbo we did caused the cells of some female naughty parts to create some stuff that made those cells safe from HIV."

Don't feel too outclassed, they aren't getting laid either.

Not surprised (5, Informative)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987361)

It seems to me that we carry a "catalog" of genes that are not currently useful, but have been useful in the past. It's not as if evolution destroys genes - for the most part it tends to make them inactive.

Re:Not surprised (1)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987561)

And sometimes, it makes them active again.
Given time, there is a high probability that this capacity would have re-evolved, assuming that there is a selective advantage.

Huh? What? (3, Funny)

DeathMagnetic (1365763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987391)

In this work, we reveal that, upon correction of the premature termination codon in theta-defensin pseudogenes, human myeloid cells produce cyclic, antiviral peptides (which we have termed "retrocyclins"), indicating that the cells retain the intact machinery to make cyclic peptides. Furthermore, we exploited the ability of aminoglycoside antibiotics to read-through the premature termination codon within retrocyclin transcripts to produce functional peptides that are active against HIV-1. Given that the endogenous production of retrocyclins could also be restored in human cervicovaginal tissues, we propose that aminoglycoside-based topical microbicides might be useful in preventing sexual transmission of HIV-1.

Woah, I think I'm going to need a car analogy...

Re:Huh? What? (2, Insightful)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987497)

In this work, we reveal that coating the inside of your car's tail pipe reacts with the metal to prevent tail pipe wevils, (Highly Infectious Vermin) from nesting and eventually breaking down your entire car's resistance from rust.

Re:Huh? What? (4, Interesting)

oracleofbargth (16602) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987763)

Woah, I think I'm going to need a car analogy...

Say your car door doesn't have any manual door locks, since it was built to be all automatic, but you lost the remote a long time ago. Your car could easily be broken into or stolen, now that you can't lock the door. So, you have someone read through the engineering manual for the car to find the code the remote used, and build another one to let you lock the doors again.

Taking bets on which pharma corp will silence them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987421)

So ... who's taking bets on which pharmaceutical or bio-engineering corporation will sue them to oblivion? I mean there have to be some patents involved. Somebody surely has patented this "junk DNA" or something as vague as "looking at it funny". Corporations in this field seem to be especially ruthless and immoral. Bribes or lawsuits? Who will win the race?

Lube (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987469)

So they are saying "Our lube can stop the HIV?"

Re:Lube (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987749)

basically, yes

junk dna is like my basement (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987509)

there's a whole bunch of crap down there i needed at one time, and mostly have forgotten about. there's also a small chance i'll need something down there again, but usefulness is so marginal. but every now and then i'll notice a glimmer of something in the corner i had totally forgotten, and i go "holy crap! this is incredibly important!"

Latent DNA Disclosure... (1)

Xin Jing (1587107) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987517)

Is it trivial to ask that a parm company that uses ancient genes as part of a cure disclose possible adverse genetic side effects as a condition of it's use. Besides the usual "see the August edition of Good Housekeeping for details" rollcall of symtoms and side effects, I think the introducion of foreign genetic elements to help treat a life-threatening illness bears some merit. From wikipedia: a gene is "...a locatable region of genomic sequence, corresponding to a unit of inheritance..." So this is actual genetic code from some other living person that lived ages ago.

Benign Virus Example... (1)

Xin Jing (1587107) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987631)

Also, I'm at a loss to remember the name of a specific genetic virus that infects cats. Over time the cats become more tolerant and less predatory towards mice. Otherwise, the cats behave normally. Can someone help me with the name of this virus, I'm trying to draw an example here and unfortunatly I can't recall any facts.

Re:Latent DNA Disclosure... (1)

guppysap13 (1225926) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987691)

This is a gene in your DNA currently, that became inactive ages ago. These scientists have found a way to re-activate the gene. (I'm trying to finish loading the summary to read more it, but it appears the site is just about slashdotted.)

failzo85 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987589)

to the crowd in How is the GNAA are there? Let's Corpse turned o7er codebase became

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987613)

There could be an online store where you scan your DNA, and pick which superhero powers you want to have activated based on that.

Curing HIV is so easy (5, Funny)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987623)

a caveman could do it.

A bit unclear to me... (3, Interesting)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987637)

...and I know really it's too early to know, but the big question on my mind is: what sort of treatment are we talking about here?

Can a cure for AIDS be derived from this? Or will it be a matter of "if we catch an HIV infection early, we can clear it up and minimize the damage"? Or is it only useful as a preventative measure, which seems to be where the quote in TFS is headed?

If it's only useful as a preventative measure, then there are two big issues.

One is how prone it would be to user error. If it's a "follow these steps every time you're going to put yourself at risk" kind of thing, then there's a concern that the increase in people's willingness to put themselves at risk exceeds the practical efficacy of the prevention. OTOH, if it's a "go to your doctor once (or once every X time period) for a professioally-administered round of protection", then that's probably less an issue.

The other is... look, I'm all for scientific progress, and I think we should research the hell out of this, but let's not jump the gun. As evidenced by the fact that we call potentially-functional strecthes of DNA "junk", we do not understand what they do. If prehistoric animals used this sequence and we don't, there is probably a reason, be it small or large. Maybe it's as simple as "it takes cellular resources and the risk of an HIV-like attack had subsided below the break-even point" - and if that turns out to be the case, FULL SPEED AHEAD! Or maybe evolutionary pressures put the protein in disfavor because it interferes with some other aspect of modern human biology, or has some secondary effect that is harmful. Now it's hard to imagine that would weigh in as "more severe than an active HIV infection", so it might still be a useful treatment for a known case of AIDS if it can be used in that way (depending on cost/benefit vs. other AIDS treatments); but not necessarily a good preventative measure if that were to turn out to be the case.

Re:A bit unclear to me... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987809)

Agreed. Flipping a few DIP switches in the DNA sequence might seem like a great idea, but this one is going to take a lot of research. Especially since the genes being flipped seem to be involved in cervicovaginal tissue (eg. baby factory). If that's the case, you may get protection against HIV, but you also may pass along a prominent eyebrow and tendency toward grunting to your kids.

Not to mention the possibility of an active immune response making something even stronger out of HIV, or weakening some other portion of the immune system.

Admittedly, most of these possibilities are somewhat remote, and maybe I'm just suffering from a heightened Frankenstein complex when it comes to twiddling with DNA, but...

"Junk" DNA (1)

ParticleGirl (197721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987673)

The PLoS article [plosbiology.org]

I've always been fascinated by "junk DNA." It *can't* be junk; there is so much we don't know here... In fact, the definition of "junk DNA" is something along the lines of "DNA we have not yet identified" Evolution would not have allowed for the repeated (and repeated and repeated) replication of so much code if it wouldn't have been more costly to simply ignore it. More and more researchers think that these are sequences which had a use in regulation, spacing, etc, and which can be put together in new ways to code for various enzyme complexes... the raw material that new genes can be built from; evolution's toolkit.

What I find really fascinating is this seeming reinforcement of that idea: researchers performing directed evolution, using nature's toolkit to put the raw materials together in useful new ways.

Bad news for (HIV+) creationists (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987687)

I can only imagine the cognitive dissonance in an HIV-infected creationist when s/he finds out about this!

Thank you Jesus! (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987709)

For designing us with immunity but not turning it on so that the hemophiliacs (which you also must have intentionally designed in) can die horrible deaths.

U.S. HIV Vaccine For $1,000 From (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987751)

your nearest Private Health Care Provider [youtube.com] .

courtesy of the protests by people who get socialized health care from Medicare.

Yours In Health,
K. Trout

Darwin's Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28987765)

This, I think, is the general idea behind the book "Darwin's Radio", various genes start "waking up" (for different reasons though). Not having read it I'm not too sure (and that's why I'm an AC!).

Damn CIA (1)

lengel (519399) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987825)

Why would the CIA be so dumb to create a virus that it turns out we may have a natural defense against hidden away in our DNA?

Not called junk DNA (4, Informative)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28987851)

The summary says "dismissively called junk DNA". That language does not occur in the serious study done by Nitya Venkataraman. I found the passage in the article, it says n "Previous reports revealed that aminoglycoside antibiotics could suppress the termination codon of pseudogenes and disease-associated nonsense mutations [19â"25]. In bacteria, "

People be careful when you summarize research in evolution. Creationists are known to quote mine and they repeatedly quote the mistaken summary (like the one posted here in slashdot) but attribute it, wrongly and knowlingly to the science article. No matter how many times you correct they continue to persist in their misrepresentation. Finding pseudogene is quite common and it actually strengthens the argument for a common ancestor. Like all mammals can make their own Vitamin C. But we primates cant. The gene to make the vitamin exists as a mutated pseudogene in our genome. Such pseudogenes are quite common.

But somehow in the mind of a creationist, gaining understanding of the original function of a pseudogene is somehow an evidence against evolution. Don't feed these trolls with sloppy summaries.

I am very sure, creationists will trumpet "Scientists have pie in their face. New function found in junk DNA. Death of Evolution is neigh. Halleluja!" quoting this very summary.

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