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AIDS Virus Can Hide In Bone Marrow

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-one-can-see-us-here dept.

Medicine 118

suraj.sun writes "The virus that causes AIDS can hide in the bone marrow, avoiding drugs and later awakening to cause illness, according to new research that could point the way toward better treatments for the disease. Dr. Kathleen Collins of the University of Michigan and her colleagues report in this week's edition of the journal Nature Medicine that the HIV virus can infect long-lived bone marrow cells that eventually convert into blood cells. The virus is dormant in the bone marrow cells, she said, but when those progenitor cells develop into blood cells, it can be reactivated and cause renewed infection. The virus kills the new blood cells and then moves on to infect other cells, said. In recent years, drugs have reduced AIDS deaths sharply, but patients need to keep taking the medicines for life or the infection comes back, Dr. Collins said."

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How about a bone marrow transplant? (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408324)

Guess that could get infected again anyway?

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408476)

Wouldn't it full of mature immune system cells known to harbor HIV anyway?

I think it's interesting that the cells themselves can hide in the progenitor cells, that's clever, but I wouldn't think transplants would be done from HIV carriers to healthy individuals even if the HIV blood levels were reduced to undetectable levels by medicines -and- the cells of the tissue themselves weren't known to carry the virus because the blood always could. I know similar precautions are taken with blood donations and cancer. Blood banks won't take blood from you if you've ever had a melanoma, even if it was caught early and burned off 20 years previously source [bloodbook.com] . The chances that you have lingering cells with metastatic potential at that point has got to be far below the chances that you have independent cancer cells circulating. I'd also assume that due to immune system rejection, any cancer cells from another person aren't going to infect you unless you are a Tasmanian devil [wikipedia.org] .

Better err on the safe side, it's not like it's as annoying as FAA regulations that are clearly crap.

Anyway, back on the point: I don't think they'd transplant any tissue from an HIV carrier to a healthy person even without the current finding.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (5, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408858)

I think it's interesting that the cells themselves can hide in the progenitor cell

We're discussing the aids virus, not a cell infected with it. virus != cell.

The issue here is that some (all?) bone marrow stem cells don't progress with the reproduction of the virus while it's a stem cell. Once the stem cell is infected, the virus sits there, dormant, because the cell is not hospitable for it to reproduce in. Then when the stem cell differentiates into a red blood cell, the virus is able to resume its mission, and kicks out a few thousand new virons which re-initiate infection. This someone that was thought to be "cured" becomes reinfected.

Nerve cells have also been known to serve as time capsules for a variety of viruses, though I don't believe they've figured out what triggers reactivation in those cases. These sleepers are really challenging for the immune system to deal with, because from the outside of the cell where the white blood cells etc are milling around, the infected cell looks and behaves normally. It's only detected as a problem after it's fired up the bug factory inside, and by that time it may be too late. Unless the cell behaves abnormally, there's just no way for the immune system to identify the cell as needing to be destroyed. And from there the only thing that can kill it is itself. But again the apoptosis process is usually triggered by abnormalities within the cell - if the virus is dormant there's nothing to trigger that either. The cell doesn't know it's a carrier, nor does the immune system.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (0)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408910)

Not that there even is an aids virus. I thought it was HIV.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408966)

Correct. To this day there is no conclusive proof that HIV is actually the cause of AIDS. .

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (2, Funny)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409694)

What do you want, a decree from God or something? We have some pretty large mountains of scientific evidence.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409822)

Then you should have no trouble proving him wrong.

old AIDS and new AIDS (1, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410410)

AIDS has been redefined. The definition now requires the presence of HIV.

IMHO, that's cheating. It's "winning" the argument by changing the definition.

There are plenty of ways that one can aquire an immunodeficiency syndrome. They were all AIDS until some wiseass redefined AIDS to exclude everything except the most common situation.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (2, Informative)

mmarlett (520340) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409880)

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which makes HIV the AIDS virus. That is how the English language works. Also, science. It is the same science that tells us that some forms of HPV can cause warts and/or cancer. It's sciency science. This sort of science is not popular with AIDS denialists [wikipedia.org] , but that does not change the fact that it is real and actual science brought to you by the kinds of people who make organ transplants possible, not the kind of AIDS denialists who publish stories in Harper's [wikipedia.org] . I only mention this because your comment seems sort of dismissive and misguidedly pedantic, and I want to cover some bases before other people get going.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (2, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409886)

Not that there even is an aids virus. I thought it was HIV

AIDS was originally the description of the condition/symptoms of the disease that was later identified as HIV. The terms are now used somewhat interchangeably. (tho admittedly, this is probably poor usage, but at some point you just have to accept it)

Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. Basically, something you caught from someone else crippled your immune system. Took them awhile to figure out what it was and actually isolate and classify it. That something was HIV.

The term "AIDS" got its foothold during the time period between when we recognized the disease and figured out what was causing it. You still call a cold a "cold", even though we now know that being exposed to cold damp weather for extended periods isn't actually what is the root cause of your getting sick.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409048)

Interesting. This weekend's Quirks and Quarks has a story about the bacterium that causes typhoid hiding in the gall bladder where it can come back and spread the disease.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409094)

So, in a way, AIDS is a rootkit infection.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409850)

almost any virus can be considered a rootkit. They hijack cells and get them to infect others, just like an internet worm. Their level of sophistication varies though, which determines the level of danger they represent. The big problem is that evolution occurs at a staggering speed when such short "life cycles" combine with such a high reproduction grade. (one viron infecting one cell can release tens of thousands of virons when the cell finally bursts) Nothing can beat virii for adaptation speed because of this short of bacteria, which are only as effective because they take optimal reproduction and combine it with efficient use of resources and non reliance on hosts.

The only thing we have going for us against viruses is they can't be too successful or they kill the host before having time to effectively distribute themselves. I'd call that one of AIDS' best weapons - it takes so long to kill you that you can be an effective communicator for an incredibly long time, comparatively speaking. No one has ever died of AIDS actually... they die from stupid simple infections that are unchecked due to AIDS' destruction of the immune system. So in that respect, AIDS is completely harmless, directly-speaking. Indirectly however, it's easily lethal.

AIDS attacks the brain too (0, Flamebait)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410450)

AIDS dementia will kill you if you somehow survive without much of your immune system.

The really horrible thing is that the early stages of AIDS's attack on the brain cause risk-taking behavior and desire for sex.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409976)

We're discussing the aids virus, not a cell infected with it. virus != cell.

Er, that's embarrassing, I initially wrote "the progenitor cells could carry the virus," then instead meant to type "virus could hide in the progenitor cells." Ugh.

bullshet, I call Shanagans (1)

salemboot (1178525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410208)

Of course they want you medicated for life. Watch Highlander 2. Same shet. Keep the shield on and make the money.

Sorry but you're wrong (2, Funny)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410494)

They never made any sequels to Highlander.

so the obvious avenue for attack here (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 4 years ago | (#31411852)

These sleepers are really challenging for the immune system to deal with, because from the outside of the cell where the white blood cells etc are milling around, the infected cell looks and behaves normally. It's only detected as a problem after it's fired up the bug factory inside, and by that time it may be too late. Unless the cell behaves abnormally, there's just no way for the immune system to identify the cell as needing to be destroyed. And from there the only thing that can kill it is itself. But again the apoptosis process is usually triggered by abnormalities within the cell - if the virus is dormant there's nothing to trigger that either. The cell doesn't know it's a carrier, nor does the immune system.

what this suggests then, is that the obvious avenue for attack is a way to trigger cell death whenever the aids virus is present in the cell, wonder if theres some way to give the cell sensitivity in this respect with minimal side effects. isnt this similar to some cancer treatment?

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (2, Informative)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408960)

Anyway, back on the point: I don't think they'd transplant any tissue from an HIV carrier to a healthy person even without the current finding.

Wha?

The OP was talking about killing off the bone marrow in the *infected* patient and then performing a marrow transplant (a common treatment for lymphomas). No idea how you interpreted it as the reverse, what good would that do??

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409112)

Oh I don't know...
Improve Phizer's and GSK's margins?

Yeah, yeah, but you did ask what good it would do. That's all I could think up.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409454)

go for a funny, get a flamebait...
must be my monday from hell...
Oh well.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1)

chooks (71012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409216)

The WSJ had an article [wsj.com] about this. From the article:

The mutation prevents a molecule called CCR5 from appearing on the surface of cells. CCR5 acts as a kind of door for the virus. Since most HIV strains must bind to CCR5 to enter cells, the mutation bars the virus from entering.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31412086)

The WSJ had an article [wsj.com] about this. From the article:

The mutation prevents a molecule called CCR5 from appearing on the surface of cells. CCR5 acts as a kind of door for the virus. Since most HIV strains must bind to CCR5 to enter cells, the mutation bars the virus from entering.

Is CCR5 in any way necessary to the cell? If not, then a molecule which would fit CCR5 like a negative and attach to it would prevent the virus from attaching to the cell. The "doors" would be "jammed".

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409328)

i think that the parent was suggesting the reverse, as a potential cure. I forget what its called and cant be bothered to google for it, but isn't there a disease where the cure is radiation to kill off all existing bone marrow, then transplant new in from a clean donor? it seems like this would theoretically be a long term cure for an aids patient. the downside being that the procedure is wildly painful, expensive, and dangerous. i *think* that is what the parent was suggesting.

yes, and it works (2, Informative)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410472)

We use chemicals, not radiation. The disease is called leukemia; it is cancer of the immune system.

AIDS has been cured this way. The patient already had leukemia. They got the AIDS cure thrown in for free. :-)

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31412324)

My sister had cancer of the bone marrow, and that is pretty much exactly what they did.

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1)

sandertje (1748324) | more than 4 years ago | (#31411114)

First of all, viruses aren't cells. Viruses are basically just encapsulated packages of genetic material (can be either DNA or RNA. In the case of HIV it's RNA). Normally, RNA viruses - such as the flu - cannot be really "dormant", since there RNA is translated into protein quite quick. However, HIV is a retrovirus, which means it can transform it's RNA back to DNA. This viral DNA then integrates in the human DNA. It literally squeezes between human genes. And genomic DNA isn't transcribed throughout the whole genome for any given cell. Cell type A might transcribe only region A (this is purely hypothetical, to give an idea) in a given chromosome, but cell type B might transcribe both regions A and B in the same chromosome. So, if HIV were to hide in region B, it can remain dormant forever in cell type A. There is just no way for the cell to know that HIV is there. Only when cell type A matures into cell type B, HIV gets expressed again. Dormant HIV infections would be very hard, if not impossible, to detect for the body's own immune system. Even a treatment for dormant HIV would be very difficult (since the cells do not express any feature of HIV, except for on the DNA level). You'd need to target infected cells on the DNA level, something that is very, very hard to accomplish in living organisms. there are basically two ways I can think of: engineer a toxic molecule to a HIV-specific DNA probe, thus killing all cells that have HIV DNA in them. Or splice out the HIV DNA, but that is even harder, especially when you don't know where the HIV fragments are located in the genome (I guess HIV integrates at multiple places in human DNA, making that option quite impractical).

Rob Malda's tranny died under mysterious circumsta (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408496)

Rob Malda's tranny died under mysterious circumstances

New details about Rob Malda's past may come out in the divorce proceedings with his wife of 8 years, Kathleen. Page 6 speculates that she may fight the prenup, citing Malda’s infidelity with various street trannies.

In 2007, Malda was caught by Dexter police with a transvestite hooker in his car. He told his wife that he “stopped to help a person crying.” Several other hookers sold tales of Malda’s solicitation to the tabloids, and all of them were convinced to recant, with one exception:
Paul Barresi, a private detective who claims he was hired for damage control by Malda when the scandal broke, tells Page Six: “I called [Malda attorney] Marty ‘Bull Dog’ Singer and told him I could round up all the transsexuals alleging sexual dalliances with Malda.” And they would all recant their stories.

“In less than 10 days,” Barresi says, “I got them all to sign sworn, videotaped depositions, stating it wasn’t Malda himself, but rather a look-alike, who they’d encountered - with the exception of Suiuli.” In 2008, she fell to her death from her Dexter roof.

Atisone Suiuli was the tranny found in Malda’s car in 2007. After being caught by police, she had proof that she was with Malda and wouldn’t change her story. How convenient for him that she died soon afterwards.

MOD PARENT UP!!!!!!! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408882)

Bravo! BRAVO! BRAVISSIMO!!!

Re:How about a bone marrow transplant? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409602)

How about blocking the trigger that causes the virus to reactivate? (Provided we can figure it out)

Alt Therapies (5, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408346)

IIRC, they did a bone marrow transplant between someone with AIDS/HIV and another person who had a natural immunity to the disease.
The HIV positive patient was 'cured'
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1858843,00.html [time.com]

Is this a viable cure for HIV? Not by a long shot. Even [Berlin-based hematologist Gero] Huetter says bone-marrow transplants, which kill about a third of patients, are so dangerous that "they can't be justified ethically" in anything other than desperate situations like late-stage leukemia.
...
But there might be a glimmer of hope in the case. If the transplant does prove to have been a success and can be replicated, researchers say gene therapists might one day be able to re-engineer a patient's cells to change their bone marrow the same way a transplant does, except without the dangers.

Re:Alt Therapies (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408614)

It would be extremely interesting if the actual source of the invincibility AIDS were to be bone marrow rather than blood itself. Perhaps we have gotten it wrong for the last 30 years or so. What a fantastic world it would be with yet another disease conquered.

Re:Alt Therapies (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408844)

It would be extremely interesting if the actual source of the invincibility AIDS were to be bone marrow rather than blood itself. Perhaps we have gotten it wrong for the last 30 years or so. What a fantastic world it would be with yet another disease conquered.

The article doesn't do a very good job of putting this finding in context. The idea of "reservoirs" of the virus is both fairly old and well established; reasonably soon after HAART treatments were able to knock down the blood virus counts to undetectable levels, researchers tried the risky experiment of stopping treatment only to see the virus instantly rebounds.

Dormant cells in the lymph nodes are currently considered the most important such reservoir. Various other reservoirs were known or hypothesized, which I would have assumed included bone marrow; apparently it's a new discovery. While important, it's not paradigm-shifting, nor does it offer an immediate path for treatment--we can't currently clear out the known reservoirs. This simply makes the challenge of finding a cure higher.

Scientific American had a pretty good overview issue on HIV cures and vaccines about a year and a half ago. I assume this [scientificamerican.com] is the article, but didn't re-read to confirm.

j.

Re:Alt Therapies (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409436)

The marrow transplant is older news. The issue is with the survivability of the procedure. These transplants kill about a third of the patients. It's not an attractive option. On top of that, finding a compatible donor is even more unlikely. It's just not a viable solution with current technology.

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1858843,00.html [time.com]

Re:Alt Therapies (1)

epp_b (944299) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409028)

IIRC, they did a bone marrow transplant between someone with AIDS/HIV and another person who had a natural immunity to the disease.

See: CCR5 Delta 32 [wikipedia.org] and how it relates to a BMT [wikipedia.org]

Additionally, if the HIV is limited to the bone marrow, theoretically, a complete myeloablative transplant should eradicate it, regardless of whether or not the donor possesses the CCR5/32 mutation, no?

Re:Alt Therapies (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409056)

Unfortunately, it's well established that HIV isn't limited to the bone marrow. In addition to the active infection, which includes the blood, dormant reservoirs exist in other places--memory cells and some immune cells in the stomach, for example. This finding merely confirms yet one more reservoir.

Re:Alt Therapies (1)

epp_b (944299) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409712)

OK, I wasn't entirely sure. Thank-you for clarifying.

Re:Alt Therapies (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409486)

Even [Berlin-based hematologist Gero] Huetter says bone-marrow transplants, which kill about a third of patients, are so dangerous that "they can't be justified ethically" in anything other than desperate situations like late-stage leukemia.

Yeah, I had a dear family friend who was almost at that stage and the best marrow donor found at that point gave him something like a -- geeze it was years ago but I wanna say -- 20% chance of survival? If he'd gone into the acute stage they would have pulled the lever, but they weren't about to do it until they absolutely had to. That 1/3rd fatality rate is after accounting for the fact that marrow transplants only take place after extensive searches for genetic matches starting with close relatives then working out into the general bone marrow registry (where the odds of a good match are insanely low). Even an ideal match is pretty sketchy, because after the transplant you have no immune system at all and the mildest cold will kill you.

So I can see what they're saying when they imply that staying on drugs for the rest of your life is a saner choice than getting a marrow transplant, even if it turns out to be a reliable and complete cure for AIDS.

But by the same token, my friend lucked out and his relatively rare form of leukemia turned out to be not just treatable but curable with drugs, which at the time were experimental and he was lucky enough to get in on a study. The results astonished the researchers they were so successful, and they were scrambling to move people from the placebo group to active group without invalidating the study. Now it's the standard treatment for the disease and the prognosis is overall quite good.

Here's hoping that this new knowledge can help us find a real cure that isn't as lethal as the disease.

Re:Alt Therapies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409594)

I used to work for a very large bone marrow registry. The odds of finding a good match get better every day, but they always need more people willing to donate, especially minorities. See www.bethematch.org to learn more. You will most likely not have to donate bone marrow, but rather just have blood taken from you, so it is relatively a painless procedure to maybe save a life.

Re:Alt Therapies (1)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409620)

Is bone marrow transplant as dangerous for the donor (or is it non-live donation)?

Re:Alt Therapies (2, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409848)

Depends on how risky you consider anesthesia. That's about the riskiest aspect of donating marrow, followed closely by the risk of local infection.... As for the process, they basically stick a needle into your pelvic bone and draw out some marrow.

http://www.marrow.org/DONOR/When_You_re_Asked_to_Donate_fo/Donation_FAQs/index.html#process [marrow.org]

Humm (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408350)

Similar to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia then. Interesting.

Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408428)

HIV is a retrovirus. It literally becomes a part of your DNA. The only way to truly cure HIV is to remove the HIV DNA from your genome, good luck with that.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (2, Funny)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408502)

You wouldn't remove it. You'd replace it with a nonmalevolent retrovirus.

$genome = str_replace($retroVirus, $superPower, $genome);

Just make sure you get the values in your variables correct, and that your body is upgraded to PHP v4.1 or later

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409128)

Also note the following is VeryBad(tm) mKay?

$genome = str_replace($retroVirus, $superPower, gnome);

Aside from the bareword that should have been found with Lint, that missing 'e' makes a *world* of difference.
-nB

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31411756)

I've seen the sig "My memory is full of llamas."

Maybe this is the next stage: "My DNA is full of gnomes."

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408514)

Or kill the infected cells.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408530)

-10 internet points. It becomes part of the dna for a few select cell types, not EVERY cell type, and certainly you cannot spread this 'bad' DNA to offspring by means of DNA in eggs/sperm. you are implying that a virus competely changes your entire genetic make up. and this is simply not the case. it changes cellular dna to instructs those infected cells to mass produce new hiv. You wont be growing wings anytime soon.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408690)

Who said anything about wings?

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (5, Interesting)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408752)

you are implying that a virus competely changes your entire genetic make up. and this is simply not the case. it changes cellular dna to instructs those infected cells to mass produce new hiv. You wont be growing wings anytime soon.

Transposons [wikipedia.org] would like to disagree! These make up upto 50% of the human genome (only 2% are actual Genes)! They are essentially viruses trapped in your cell, they can still duplicate, but they lost their ability to leave the cell. Selfish Genes essentially. Luckily most of them are inactive by now.

It is believed that the us Eutheria, i.e. mammals with a placenta, gained the ability to have one common circulatory system for two different organisms by using viral DNA to keep the immune system from going nuts about this.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

interactive_civilian (205158) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409134)

It is believed that the us Eutheria, i.e. mammals with a placenta, gained the ability to have one common circulatory system for two different organisms by using viral DNA to keep the immune system from going nuts about this.

Huh? In what way do mammals have one common circulatory system for two different organisms? The only possibility I think you might be thinking of is mother and fetus, but the mother's blood and the fetal blood do not mix. There is material exchange at the placental barrier, but the blood supplies and circulatory systems are discrete.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (3, Informative)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409172)

I doubt the GP would deny your point. You're arguing two different things. We've incorporated a ridiculous amount of viral material over the course of human (or any) evolution. That said, when you get infected by HIV or any other retrovirus, it's not like every single cell in your body all gets brand new retroviral goodness injected into the nucleus. All that viral material in our DNA is from viruses infecting gametes that managed to go on and produce a viable reproducing human being (which now has the viral goodness in EVERY cell because the gametes had it too). Over and over and over again over a shit load of generations. Two related... but also completely different things.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410666)

But transposons aren't viruses. Viruses are thought to have evolved from transposons (or vice versa, though last I heard that theory was less favored), but there's a pretty fundamental difference between them. A virus is genetically autonomous, parasitic, and infectious. A transposon is a part of your genome, and thus you can't think of it like a parasite; "selfish" implies that it has a "self" that isn't the same as the whole organism. Take maize for example. Having multicolored kernels is a trait, not a disease or infection.

But the GP's point about not changing your whole genome is still valid, even for tranposons. It's not like all of your transposons work together to simultaneously jump to the same location in every cell in your body. Since it's confined to a single cell then it's largely irrelevant for the organism. In gametes they can be passed on to your offspring, so that's important evolutionarily. Also, they are mutagens and thus one of the many factors that contribute to cancer and aging.

Now, transposons are very important for the species. Both transposons and viruses can carry (adjacent) genes with them. For transposons this creates many duplicates of a gene, which creates "junk DNA". The duplicates provide redundancy so a mutation in a single copy won't knock-out that gene product, thus it can mutate freely without harming the organism, which is a major benefit to having transposons, and the reason our cells carry so many. But none of this matters if it doesn't affect a gamete that gives rise to an offspring.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#31412312)

Having multicolored kernels is a trait, not a disease or infection.

But you're ignoring the amazing capacity for people who know nothing about biology to abuse biological concepts to the point where they are meaningless. I've seen people argue that babies are "parasitic" on the mother, for example, which is wrong on so many levels and speaks to such a profound ignorance of where concepts like "parasite" come from in the first place that one hardly knows where to start.

The basic mistake that people like this make is reifying some concept and treating instances of it as "real" individuals, and treating everything else as some kind of assemblage or accident. Philosophers have been making this kind of error since the Greeks, at least, and there is no indication that they are going to stop any time soon.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31411474)

It is believed that the us Eutheria, i.e. mammals with a placenta, gained the ability to have one common circulatory system for two different organisms by using viral DNA to keep the immune system from going nuts about this.

This, while being really beneficial, is a pretty bad thing too and probably led to most of the viruses we get today.

Let us not forget our little friends, the leech- / parasitical-based infections, some of these will just happily live away in the human body till death, screwing around with all kinds of stuff.
One can only hope the right one comes long that makes people hyper hungry and hyper violent. Woohooo, near-enough-zombie apocalypse!

I think i remember seeing some paper a while back that also associated one section of this viral DNA that could be linked to some cancers as well.
Wish i could find it again, was a good year or so ago.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31411980)

All that you said is true, except that you said it in reply to a different post or imaginary post:

"It becomes part of the dna for a few select cell types, not EVERY cell type"

GP did not claim anything about EVERY DNA, or EVERY cell type.

"and certainly you cannot spread this 'bad' DNA to offspring by means of DNA in eggs/sperm"

GP did not say that at all and there is not even a hing of implication in his post.

"you are implying that a virus completely changes your entire genetic make up. and this is simply not the case"

Again, GP did not say that. Where are you getting all this stuff, anon?

"You wont be growing wings anytime soon."

???

I am glad that mods at least did not mod down the GP post, which expressed the valid concern as well.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408538)

HIV is a retrovirus. It literally becomes a part of your DNA. The only way to truly cure HIV is to remove the HIV DNA from your genome, good luck with that.

Sarcasm isn't warranted. Remember that each cell carries -it's own copy- of the genome. HIV does not infect every cell in your body. Kill off the infected cells and you've gotten rid of all the HIV DNA. Kill off the mature immune system cells and you'll still have this reservoir of stem cells which apperantly produce more virus. Kill off the fraction of bone marrow cells (ideally without killing the patient) and you'll have gotten rid of the HIV DNA.

Your brain cells, for example, don't appear to be infected and their copies of the genome will not have any HIV DNA in them. So it's not nearly as impossible as you've suggested.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408624)

On the contrary, sarcasm is entirely warranted. The position that you take requires certainty that cells which are not continually actively producing HIV viruses have not been infected. This study shows that we have no idea which parts of the body are infected and which are not. So the only logical conclusion is that likely all cells are infected, but do not commonly produce viruses.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408692)


This study shows that we have no idea which parts of the body are infected and which are not. So the only logical conclusion is that likely all cells are infected, but do not commonly produce viruses.

It always amazes me that people such as yourself make such wild eyed speculation based on one article written by some random AP reporter. Where you got the idea that "we have no idea which part of the body are infected and which are not" I can't fathom. Do you not realize that not knowing everything isn't the same thing as not knowing anything?

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408698)

The thing you call a logical conclusion isn't.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (4, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408782)

So the only logical conclusion is that likely all cells are infected, but do not commonly produce viruses.

The only logical conclusion is the one that requires the biggest leap? Okay...

There are a number of possible conclusions, but I'd say the most logical one is the one that requires the fewest leaps and best fits the evidence.

The second part of the body after the blood that we find is infected is the bone marrow, which is responsible for producing blood, and is vastly more difficult to inspect that parts of the body that have so far shown no infection, like the skin. A logical conclusion would therefore be that HIV infects the blood and bone marrow which produces blood, and not other parts of the body which have not shown any infection despite being easier to investigate.

Another logical conclusion would be that since the infected bone marrow cells are dormant and inactive until they become blood cells, and only bone marrow cells become blood cells, that fighting the infection in the marrow (e.g. via a transplant though that's a big hammer) would be sufficient and any "infection" in the rest of the body would be irrelevant. Oh and hey there's some evidence that this actually works too.

You could of course be right and the entire body has its DNA re-written and that every cell in the body could potentially start creating new viruses. That's certainly not the only logical conclusion, nor do I think it's the most logical (since observation seems to go against it), but it's possible.

But ultimately the most logical conclusion that you or I can reach is that we should wait for the fine folks doing the research to continue to do their good work rather than assuming we've already got it all figured out. :P

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408914)

Fair enough but the point of this article is that you have to kill the bone marrow to kill HIV. My Father in law died of 5FE toxicity last year. The drug killed his bone marrow and from that point on his immune system started to collapse. Before long he was being eaten alive by bacteria. He started to decompose long before he died.

I don't think we have any good ways to safely reboot the bone marrow with new cells. If we could do that a lot of problems would go away.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408940)

It is not as easy as you make it appear. We already knew one would have to kill ALL T Cells (which can survive for 70 years) to make sure the virus was gone. Now they are saying you have to kill all the bone marrow cells too! In addition, you would then need to survive without any T Cells long enough to regrow your bone marrow, then you T Cells. So a pessimistic "good luck with that" is probably warranted. What holds better promise is gene therapy, to transfer the immunity possessed by HIV long term nonprogressors to others. Ultimately, I believe we will eventually wipe out this disease in a few generations through vaccination, much like Polio. However, I hold little hope for an actual cure for those that are already infected. Currently, anti-virals are effective in reducing viral load to undetectable levels in almost everyone (or at least everyone that can afford to spend $1000/month on meds). I pray that this continues to be true, so that people that have contracted the virus through no fault of their own (including some close family members of mine) can continue to lead "normal" lives.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409896)

A second possibility is that you extract bone marrow stem cells, determine which cells aren't infected (as I'd expect odds are good that not all of them would be), culture those stem cells in a lab, then simultaneously kill off all the T cells and the bone marrow, then reintroduce the healthy stem cells in large quantities (possibly even getting some of those stem cells to differentiate into T cells in the test tube, too).

The big question in my mind is whether there's a way to determine which bone marrow stem cells aren't infected without destroying the cells.

Unless... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409070)

> Your brain cells, for example, don't appear to be infected and their copies of the genome will not have any HIV DNA in them.

Unless, of course, the patient got the rarer AIDS strain, the "Zombie" variant -- which keeps saying "Brains! Brains!"

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

thms (1339227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408562)

The megalomaniac idea would be gene therapy: Inserting another retrovirus with a second strand of DNA into the cell which then fabricates interfering RNA, i.e. RNA which intercepts the other virus' DNA. And that gene can only be activated via some external promoter. And then add a method for apoptosis (cell suicide) that triggers upon binding RNAi (if not all cells are infected).

I'm not making any bets how long it will be before this can become reality. Also, I smell Digital Life Management opportunities!

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408900)

complete with strings that bind the patient back to the corporate entity that owns the patents... ugh no thanks.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408992)

I sseem to have heard this before somewhere [imdb.com]

Tyrell: [Tyrell explains to Roy why he can't extend his lifespan] The facts of life... to make an alteration in the evolvement of an organic life system is fatal. A coding sequence cannot be revised once it's been established.
Batty: Why not?
Tyrell: Because by the second day of incubation, any cells that have undergone reversion mutation give rise to revertant colonies, like rats leaving a sinking ship; then the ship... sinks.
Batty: What about EMS-3 recombination?
Tyrell: We've already tried it - ethyl, methane, sulfinate as an alkylating agent and potent mutagen; it created a virus so lethal the subject was dead before it even left the table.
Batty: Then a repressor protein, that would block the operating cells.
Tyrell: Wouldn't obstruct replication; but it does give rise to an error in replication, so that the newly formed DNA strand carries with it a mutation - and you've got a virus again... but this, all of this is academic. You were made as well as we could make you.
Batty: But not to last.
Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long - and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy. Look at you: you're the Prodigal Son; you're quite a prize!
Batty: I've done... questionable things.
Tyrell: Also extraordinary things; revel in your time.
Batty: Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn't let you into heaven for.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409016)

It's really too bad Victor Frankenstein is dead.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (1)

jketch (1485815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408640)

You could, as described by TubeSreak, replace the patient's immune system with another which is not susceptible to HIV. Sadly, this is not possible in the majority of cases because you need a fairly good match to do successful bone marrow transplant, and HIV-proof people are rare. Maybe if we ever get the theraputic cloning and genetic engineering down we might be able to make a clone of an individuals immune system with an appropriately modified CD4 receptor (the point of entry for HIV), but a treatment like that is a long way off if its even possible at all.

Re:Uh This is a Surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408892)

There is actually a drug being researched, Tre Recombinase, that does just that; HIV does not perfectly integrate into human DNA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tre_recombinase

Honest Q (1)

Hatechall (541378) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408434)

Didn't we (the scientific community) know this already? I could have sworn we did.

Re:Honest Q (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409092)

We knew it could remain dormant in T Cells for 70 years. I believe knowing it could remain dormant in stem cells in bone marrow is a new development.

And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408460)

Cancer is the new AIDS.

(light humor, ok folks)

Re:And? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408616)

MRSA is the new cancer.

Re:And? (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409372)

I thought that was RIAA.

Re:And? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409654)

RIAA is the MRSA?

Yeah, we can run with that.

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408592)

Someone I bumped into on the street said the meanest thing to me today:

I HOPE YOU GET AIDS AND DIE!

Jokes on them. I'm never gonna get laid!

What's all this biology? (4, Funny)

R3coiler (1740032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408762)

Gosh, doesn't the submitter realize that Slashdotters are computer geeks and not biology geeks? Use analogies we can understand, like comparing this "hiding" virus to a rootkit or something.

Re:What's all this biology? (1)

colonelquesadilla (1693356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408908)

It's like if a bug is hiding in the 200 million lines of code that a car supposedly runs, then bam, one day even though the pedal wasn't sticking for years since they fixed it off goes your toyota.

Re:What's all this biology? (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409456)

It's basically like a virus that not only infects and disables your antivirus scanner, but the very installation media that it came on as well. Hence why it's a particularly nasty infection that's hard to get rid of.

The HIV virus... (4, Funny)

Pteraspidomorphi (1651293) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408790)

Also known as the human immunodeficiency virus virus.

Re:The HIV virus... (2, Funny)

a_fuzzyduck (979684) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408816)

It's also been known to hide in ATM machines so it can steal PIN numbers

Re:The HIV virus... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409146)

You've probably got a problem with typing your PIN number into an ATM machine too, don't you? Ever been to The La Brea Tar Pits? Where would the internet be without the TCP/IP protocol? When you've dealt with human stupidity as long as I have, it becomes no longer remarkable.

Re:The HIV virus... (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409346)

Also known as the human immunodeficiency virus virus.

Wait a minute, that gives me an idea... *runs off to lab with microscope* Yes, yes, it all checks out! It's so simple, I don't know why we didn't think of it before.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus can infect itself!

My God, this changes everything! We'll finally be able to defeat this scourge, and we owe it all to Slashdot Pedants. Here's to you! /salute

Re:The HIV virus... (1)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409934)

I know you were joking, but wouldn't it be great if we could trick the virus into attacking itself?

I also feel that there may be promise in DNA Computers [howstuffworks.com] , but it sounds like those are way far off. Program the DNA computer to seek and destroy certain cells, and then self-destruct when finished.

Re:The HIV virus... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31411764)

Someone's suffering from RAS Syndrome! [wikipedia.org]

oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31412396)

Yo dawg I heard you have a virus, so we put a virus inside your virus! How do you like that?

Oh noews!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408832)

I gots da aidz in mai bones!

this is one nasty little bugger (1)

gamecrusader (1684024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31408868)

well seems the aid virus is a nasty little bugger

Re:this is one nasty little bugger (2, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409052)

yeah, but at least it's not sarcoidosis.

Re:this is one nasty little bugger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31410226)

it's never lupus [youtube.com]

Re:this is one nasty little bugger (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#31411416)

Indeed it is, but then again, considering the limited amount of ways for it to transfer, we might actually be able to bring it down quite a bit in the future.

Of course that won't help the millions that are already infected...

slashdot got scooped by nbc channel 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31408930)

what is happening , slashdot acquired AIDS?

File under DUH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31409256)

Jeeze Louise, this is news WHY? Everybody who's been paying any attention at all the last 20 years knows this. AIDS is for life baby. Wear that condom and stay out of bath houses.

Dentasmile MD (1)

jallmack (1762608) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409680)

Think about this: They drill a hole into your bone and extract some of the insides. If you think the anesthesia will help, then think about the dentist but 50x worse. Dentasmile MD [articlesbase.com]

News at 11 (2, Informative)

One_Minute_Too_Late (1226718) | more than 4 years ago | (#31409752)

While the HIV's preferred target cells are T-cells, macrophages (which tend to be long-lived cells) and microglia (macrophage-like cells that live in the brain) also take up the M-tropic strains of the virus. As these cell types derive ultimately from hematopoietic stem cells, it is not a great surprise to read about this. Sounds like the so-called journalist from AP news was having a slow day.

As for transplants being the great new cure-all for HIV infection: no. Transplantation substitutes one batch of problems for another batch of medical issues. A good HLA match is still required, and finding someone with the right CCR5 or CXCR5 mutation would make the situation doubly difficult. Then, because the engrafted immune system will recognize the host's antigens as foreign (even with HLA typing), the recipient would still require immunosuppression, putting them at risk for the kinds of infections and tumours that HIV patients tend to get. Not to mention the costs of actually doing and maintaining a transplant patient. Can't do that for millions of people, it's hugely expensive.

What this study probably implies is that autologous stem-cell transplantation (capturing the patient's own stem cells, eradicating their immune system, and putting back the stem cells to reconstitute the patient's immune system -- a treatment sometimes used in some lymphomas) would not be feasible as a last-ditch treatment for HIV/AIDS. It wouldn't solve the problem of HIV hiding in 'privileged' sites such as the brain (microglia) anyways, and being a source for viral replication/release even when virions are banished from the blood.

HIV is smart! (1)

CoffeeDregs (539143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31410216)

I guess that I'm a little bugged by the summary's wording since it makes HIV seem like an intelligent system that chooses to hide itself. Is that the case or has the latent HIV virus been found in bone marrow?

From the article, it seems as though HIV is able to infect cells in more areas of the body than previously thought, not that the virus has any particular strategy... But I suppose a headline that screams "The AIDS is coming! The AIDS is coming!" probably gets more reads...

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