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Gene Found In Black Death Survivors Stops HIV

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the research-halted-at-politician's-request dept.

Biotech 477

WindozeSux writes "According to research done by Dr. Stephen O'Brien, a mutated gene known as delta 32 found in Black Death survivor descendants, stops HIV in its tracks. In order to be immune both parents have to have the delta 32 gene. From the Article: 'In 1996, research showed that delta 32 prevents HIV from entering human cells and infecting the body. O'Brien thought this principle could be applied to the plague bacteria, which affects the body in a similar manner. To determine whether the Eyam plague survivors may have carried delta 32, O'Brien tested the DNA of their modern-day descendents...'"

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It also gives a mighty hankerin' for... (5, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902842)

....brainnnzzzz.....

what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902858)

Now you can go out and have unprotected sex............

Re:what? (-1, Offtopic)

Eric604 (798298) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903023)

This is what I found on the subject but I don't know what combination to pick (maybe "go out of power; especially having been unsuccessful in an election and have unprotected war between the sexes"??) :

out:

out(p): not allowed to continue to bat or run; "he was tagged out at second on a close play"; "he fanned out"

extinct: being out or having grown cold; "threw his extinct cigarette into the stream"; "the fire is out"

out(p): not worth considering as a possibility; "a picnic is out because of the weather"

out(a): out of power; especially having been unsuccessful in an election; "now the Democrats are out"

forbidden: excluded from use or mention; "forbidden fruit"; "in our house dancing and playing cards were out"; "a taboo subject"

out(a): directed outward or serving to direct something outward; "the out doorway"; "the out basket"

no longer fashionable; "that style is out these days"

come out of the closet: to state openly and publicly one's homosexuality; "This actor outed last year"

out(a): outside or external; "the out surface of a ship's hull"

away from home; "they went out last night"

reveal (something) about somebody's identity or lifestyle; "The gay actor was outed last week"; "Someone outed a CIA agent"

outer or outlying; "the out islands"

knocked out(p): knocked unconscious by a heavy blow

away: from one's possession; "he gave out money to the poor"; "gave away the tickets"

be made known; be disclosed or revealed; "The truth will out"

(baseball) a failure by a batter or runner to reach a base safely in baseball; "you only get 3 outs per inning"

sex:

sexual activity: activities associated with sexual intercourse; "they had sex in the back seat"

either of the two categories (male or female) into which most organisms are divided; "the war between the sexes"

all of the feelings resulting from the urge to gratify sexual impulses; "he wanted a better sex life"; "the film contained no sex or violence"

arouse: stimulate sexually; "This movie usually arouses the male audience"

the properties that distinguish organisms on the basis of their reproductive roles; "she didn't want to know the sex of the foetus"

tell the sex (of young chickens)

Re:It also gives a mighty hankerin' for... (3, Funny)

xaosflux (917784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902869)

Are you pondering what I'm pondering Pinky?

Re:It also gives a mighty hankerin' for... (5, Funny)

xaosflux (917784) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902889)

"I think so, Brain, but I find scratching just makes it worse."

Cure for HIV. . . (4, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902847)

The Black Death.

Oh yeah, we're cookin' now!

KFG

Re:Cure for HIV. . . (5, Informative)

Wisgary (799898) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902906)

RTFA, The Black Death isn't a cure, the gene that causes people to survive the Black Death also causes people to survive an HIV infection. (If both parents have the gene, if only one of them AIDS progression is slowed down.)

Re:Cure for HIV. . . (0, Offtopic)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902939)

. . .the gene that causes people to survive the Black Death also causes people to survive an HIV infection.

And so, all we have to do to eradicate death by HIV is. . .

Release the Plague!

Or the Kraken. I figure either one will get the job done.

In either case, try to keep up, will you?

KFG

Re:Cure for HIV. . . (2)

Wisgary (799898) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902985)

And so, all we have to do to eradicate death by HIV is. . . Release the Plague! Not really, I'm sure the number of people alive that have had the gene given to them by both parents is a lot smaller than single-parent-mutation individuals... so people would still die of AIDS, until everyone has the mutation given to them by both parents. By then the gene pool would have gone way down, and we would be on our merry way to sickness and death. But hey, this is all hypothetical, I rather like the Kraken idea.

Re:Cure for HIV. . . (4, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903070)

until. . .

Bingo!

By then the gene pool would have gone way down. . .

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Have you had a look at the gene pool recently? There's some scary ass shit walkin' around out there.

KFG

Re:Cure for HIV. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903129)

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Have you had a look at the gene pool recently? There's some scary ass shit walkin' around out there.


As in yourself? :P

Re:Cure for HIV. . . (3, Informative)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903009)

I'm sure you're just trolling, but if not, read the article yet again, and read the whole thing this time.

The cure isn't "RELEASE TEH PLAGUE." The interesting bit is a gene mutation regarding CCR5 that was found to stop HIV dead in its tracks, preventing it from binding to the white blood cells. The treatment that they're working on mimics this by binding to the CCR5 receptor in white blood cells, which would block HIV from binding. Tests were done on blood samples from people with this gene mutation, and the results were always negative. The people with the gene mutation are immune to HIV.

Re:Cure for HIV. . . (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903051)

The people with the gene mutation are immune to HIV.

And so all we have to do to make people immune to HIV is:

Release the. . .

Awww, I'm sure you're just trolling. Read the post again.

KFG

Re:Cure for HIV. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903111)

The previous posters lack the gene to recognize humor. That, however, isn't proven to stop AIDS. I'd be willing to inject them with HIV and see if it does.

Old News (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902849)

I've already seen this story on digg.com.

The real question is... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902852)

... will it stop zombies?

Please! (-1, Flamebait)

Soporific (595477) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902855)

Please don't start screwing your brains out because of this news. Oh wait, this is Slashdot... ;)

~S

Re:Please! (0, Offtopic)

ericdano (113424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902860)

Yeah, seriously........only sex here is solo sex.

Re:Please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903034)

Yeah, seriously........only sex here is solo sex.

I have a girl coming around for sex tonight. And she's not getting paid either. Gimme your mod points and I'll teach you how to get lucky too.

Probably as close as we'll get... (3, Insightful)

meatflower (830472) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902857)

This kind of solution to "curing" HIV is probably as close as we'll ever get to solving the problem. It's not going to be a wonder drug, it will be simple natural selection. Black Death came and those with the mutation survived, they didn't find a cure. Hopefully with todays technologies not only those with the mutation can survive the global epidemic that is HIV, but science can bring the benefits of that mutation to all of us.

Re:Probably as close as we'll get... (4, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902909)

Well, until HIV becomes an airborne virus, not catching it in the first place is a pretty good way for 99% of the population to survive the epidemic...

AIDS so far is a social disease, which means certain behaviors minimize risk and certain behaviors maximize risk; unlike, say, the flu, which is both airborne, transmitted by contact, and through animals.

Re:Probably as close as we'll get... (0, Redundant)

InvalidError (771317) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902977)

Only problem with that is that more than 30% of the population in some areas and 1.1% worldwide (in 2003) are carriers... so you already only had 98.9% back in 2003. More likely than not, things have gotten at least somewhat worse since then.

Re:Probably as close as we'll get... (4, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903019)

It still doesn't invalidate the rest of my comment that AIDS is a predominantly social disease; even in areas with 30% infection, the changing of social norms would make the remaining 70% of the population effectively immune:

1) Curtail sexual promiscuity
2) Practice protected sex
3) Encourage long term monogamy

All three of those things will render AIDS a harmless disease for 99% of the uninfected population.

A cure is necessary, of course, for the survival of the remaining infected population.

Re:Probably as close as we'll get... (5, Funny)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903153)

"3) Encourage long term monogamy"

Why is always the cure worse than the disease?

Re:Probably as close as we'll get... (5, Funny)

Muhammar (659468) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903022)

As you say - certain behaviors minimize the HIV risk and writing Slashdot tripe on Friday night is by far the most secure approach.

Best (3, Funny)

ari_j (90255) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903166)

Best comment ever. Why can't there be like one comment that is allowed to be modded up to +6 every year or so?

Re:Probably as close as we'll get... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903028)

Exactly, lets stop spending time and money on something that is completely preventable. If you don't want to get HIV there is a short list of things that you should not do. We don't need a wonder gene or a miracle cure, we need people to stop being stupid. There are many more diseases that the money would be better spent on.

Plague and religion (3, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903064)

Religion goes back as far as human history has been documented. Being that the basic tenants of religion build on each other, I often wonder if promiscuity is shunned in almost all of oldest civilizations because it comes from an implicit form of survival. In other words, if you have just one faithfull partner, your chances of survival are much MUCH greater in times of a massive STD pandemic.

Take Africa and Asia for example where AIDs runs rampent. If this trend continues, only the religiously faithfull and monogamous will survive to carry on their genes and culture. In the mean time, I think we are seeing a deadly transition taking place.

Plague and religion-Social promiscuity (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903135)

"Religion goes back as far as human history has been documented. Being that the basic tenants of religion build on each other, I often wonder if promiscuity is shunned in almost all of oldest civilizations because it comes from an implicit form of survival. In other words, if you have just one faithfull partner, your chances of survival are much MUCH greater in times of a massive STD pandemic."

There's also the mental benifits that go with having a single partner for life. Just ask all the married guys and gals here.

Re:Plague and religion-Social promiscuity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903179)

There's also the mental benifits that go with having a single partner for life. Just ask all the married guys and gals here.

Playing with your penis does not count as having a "partner". I mean, you are talking to the slashdot crowd. Right? :P

Re:Plague and religion (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903189)

Winners write the history. The ones who survive will call themselves "righteous" and "faithful". (Not countering your argument, just spicing it up with some Nietzsche.)

Re:Plague and religion (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903208)

In other words, if you have just one faithfull partner, your chances of survival are much MUCH greater in times of a massive STD pandemic.

According to evolution theory, its the production of and survival of the offspring that is important. Once a person is beyond or incapable of bearing children, evolutionary they are dead.

Re:Plague and religion (4, Insightful)

whizistic (33541) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903266)

If we are speaking of old civilizations...then it seems pertinent to discuss the Romans...who were permiscuous as all hell...and were pretty damn successful. The religious aspect is bunk!

Re:Probably as close as we'll get... (2, Funny)

martyr69 (895913) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903110)

everynight i go to sleep worried that al qaeda communist nijas will jump out of home made palnes without even needing parachutes and land on our unsuspecting population with syringes full of HIV, infecting as many of us condom using, non-heroin doing, upright citizens as possible, after i saw a press conference suggesting this was going to happen. with a vaccine or cure, this wouldn't be a fear. we could stand in the streets, facing the al qaeda attackers yelling "give us aids bastards, give us aids!" it would become a popular bumber sitcker I think.

the problem with your attitude (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903223)

is you blame people for what a virus does. i used to be an aids educator before antiretrovirals came out in the early 90s. i remember at one conference on the issue i went to there were basically 2 dominant subgroups: gay men and black women. the black women were saying things like "this horrible gay disease, if gay men weren't so promiscuous we wouldn't have to deal with aids." the gay men were saying things like "this horrible african disease, if some african hadn't had sex with a monkey (a surprisingly common idiocy about aids) we wouldn't have to deal with aids."

do you see the parallel between their attitude and their attitude yet? the point is very simple: people were blaming each other, for what a virus does. no one is to blame for aids, no matter what they do, seriously, that's the most moral and honest and intelligent and wise position you can take on aids and human behavior. i'm 100% serious!

the point is to fight the virus, not fight other people (and, yes, your atittude promotes blaming people rather than the disease). you're whole "every body stop having risky sex" line is very pat, simple, and convenient. and absolutely useless against fighting aids. people have risky sex: all races, all classes, all types of moral upbringing, all attitutes.

need i demonstrate some recent trips from memory of moral demagogues loudly spouting out about moral behavior and then breaking their own rules?:
1. william bennett, sage of american morality: degenerate gambler
2. rush limbaugh, voice of personal accountability: drug addict
3. jim bakker, great religous authority: adulterer
4. etc., etc.

closeted gays, sex addicts, adulterers... they would be the first to pat you on the back and go "here, here" and clap to your words and smile at what you say... and then what would they do in their bedroom? do you see your problem yet? your words have no value. it's just a big public mass exercise in "do as i say, not as i do" and no one takes it seriously, because everyone is a hypocrit when it comes to something as complex about human sexuality, including, and most prominently, about their own sexuality. so your attitude is great lip service, but it doesn't translate into reality.

please, wake up: human behavior is complex, it doesn't fit your simple prescriptions. you fight the VIRUS, you don't blame people at ALL. because you know who wins when we turn on each other and blame each other?

the virus wins

and do you know what you get when you blame people for their disease? ("you deserve it") a cold heartless existence. is this compassionate conservatism you are esousping here? (snicker)

yu are not the first to make blanket overriding statements about how humans SHOULD behave, without any wisdom about how people DO behave, and then just say "you get what you deserve". but this doesn't make you wise, nor moral. it makes you part of the problem.

please, when you say the words you say, do not for the slightest bit think you are a moral or intelligent person. to be so willfully or naively blind of real human behavior, THAT DOES NOT CHANGE, AND IS CONSTANT ACROSS ALL UPBRINGINGS, is ignorance at best, evil at worst.

yes: you and your atittude. ignorant, or evil. personal accountability is important in life. but when it comes to disease, the punishment you are saying is acceptable for something so natural as sex only makes you out to be heartless or blind.

Re:the problem with your attitude (1)

fitchmicah (920679) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903234)

Well your the one with the attitude! I'd say someone here is a "HYPOCRIT!"

Probably as close as we'll get...Abstenance. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902959)

"This kind of solution to "curing" HIV is probably as close as we'll ever get to solving the problem."

Wow! Guess that whole abstenance thing didn't work out. How about not sharing needles? Or screening blood donations. Maybe what we really mean is that we don't have a solution to AIDS that still allows us to engage in those destructive behaviours we all enjoy.

Re:Probably as close as we'll get...Abstenance. (1, Insightful)

queef_latina (847562) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903007)

Abstinence is for losers. Period.

Re:Probably as close as we'll get... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902986)

This kind of solution to "curing" HIV is probably as close as we'll ever get to solving the problem. It's not going to be a wonder drug, it will be simple natural selection.

No, absolutely not! You cannot just leave hundreds of millions of Africans to die of AIDS without helping. We must not use "natural selection" (a.k.a. genocide) to solve our problems. These are human beings, just as much your own family are human beings, and we are all kin.

Maybe AIDS will never be eradicated, but it can be fought very effectively with just a few steps:

1. Carefully sanitize anything that comes into contact with blood, semen or other bodily fluids.

2. Don't have extramarital sex.

3. If you do have extramarital sex, be sure wear a good condom.

Unfortunately, the meaningless fighting over the relative importance of steps #2 and #3 have made AIDS prevention into a joke.

Re:Probably as close as we'll get... (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903261)

mmmmm... recombinant virus....

I wonder what the obstacles to making a retrovirus to "enforce" this mutation in human patients would be.

Seriously. The treatment for advanced HIV would be something like, "Ok, here's your injection. That's going to take about a week to take its course, during which you'll be slightly ill. Since you've got the AIDS, it'll be pretty bad, but you'll be in hospital. After that, it will take approximately seven years for you body to fully replace it's cells. During this time, you may have the occasional relapse; don't hesitate to call us if you're feeling ill. You will, however, be permanently immune to HIV after that point."

It's okay to go bareback again! (0, Offtopic)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902862)

NOT!! [yahoo.com]

Re:It's okay to go bareback again! (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902901)

Roughrider charged with sexual assult in B.C. [tsn.ca] It's unclear whether the aggravated part of the charge is due to having sex while knowing he was HIV+.

Don't forget to practice safe sex Slashdotters, especially if it's with a sports star.

No, I'm not new around here, why does everyone keep asking me that? What do you mean Slashdotters don't have sex!?

offtopic?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902993)

What kind of idiot thinks that joke was off topic?

Re:It's okay to go bareback again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903029)

D'oh!

if some are more immune then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902863)

is there then an implication some are more vulnerable

One man's mutation (4, Informative)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902864)

. . . is another's saving trait.

This article is interesting on several levels. The fact that some people are completely immune to the disease isn't really remarkable. That's been known for quite some time. What's amazing is that this fairly basic gene (a way of bringing stuff into cells) is completely redundant. It makes me wonder how much of our cellular machinery is simply there in case another part fails.

Don't worry. I don't think there's intelligent design behind it. Just cases of plagues that have swept through populations from time to time, causing these interesting redundancies to appear.

Re:One man's mutation (1)

dour power (764750) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902882)

Just wait until it's discovered that delta 32 causes something really evil..like independent thought.

"The mutant genes hate us for our freedom from disease..."

quite interesting (4, Insightful)

swschrad (312009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902896)

of such discoveries is medicine made. now, the difficult part is going to be getting the experiments to prove it into the public eye, infecting "32" blood with HIV in vitro, and then taking that research into the luddite chambers of policymakers.

we'll have fun galore when that happens. a true righteous moral civil war.

Re:quite interesting (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903149)

we'll have fun galore when that happens. a true righteous moral civil war.

Ok, I'll raise your poker bid...

We'll have fun galore when the "gay gene" is found. Watch what happens when the pro-abortion and pro-gay crowd fight eachother. Could it be the gay community takes a stance on pro-life?

Re:One man's mutation (1)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902911)

Don't worry. I don't think there's intelligent design behind it. Just cases of plagues that have swept through populations from time to time, causing these interesting redundancies to appear.

Agreed, it's interesting stuff. But it's not causing the redundancies/mutations, just fixating them in a population.

Re:One man's mutation (4, Informative)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902961)

Ah, but something encouraged the development of multiple redundant pathways. I suspect that what happened is that a second pathway randomly developed many years ago (probably before modern humans). After that, something came along that killed everyone off who only had the single pathway. I'm speculating that it's a disease, but it could be aliens who had it out for single pathway humans - that's evolution for ya. After my imagined catastrophe, the survivors still had two pathways. This likely had an extra metabolic cost, but it was fairly miniscule.

Human DNA has an awful lot of redundancies in it. I sometimes wonder how many protiens are expressed that just float around not doing much. Most bacteria have trim and efficient DNA. That keeps their energy expenditures low, letting them focus on important things like reproduction. Humans, on the other hand, have a surprising amount of extra stuff collected along the way. It turns out that being extremely efficient isn't a big survival trait for humans.

Re:One man's mutation (1)

JamesTRexx (675890) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902996)

being extremely efficient isn't a big survival trait for humans

At least we still focus on important things like reproduction.

Old news (1)

Misanthropy (31291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902866)

I saw a show about this on PBS a few years ago. Really interesting, but not necessarily a recent discovery.

Re:Old news (2, Interesting)

Buran (150348) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902921)

I saw it when it aired, too. It was fascinating. I was in PubMed and reading the article it cites before the show even finished airing.

It's also reminiscent of how (no one knows exactly why) the gene for sickle cell anemia provides resistance to malaria, thus has yet to be expunged from the human gene pool.

Re:Old news (5, Informative)

geraint-nz (214071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902983)

yes it's very old news, found this at http://www.lexiline.com/lexiline/lexi76.htm [lexiline.com] -

The August 7, 1998, German daily, Die Welt, contained an article by Susanne Horst
"Zehn Prozent der Europaeer sind vor Aids geschuetzt", summarizing the genetic findings of the national cancer center in Chicago as presented by molecular biologist Stephen J. O'Brien.

Human Gene Mutation CCR-5-delta-32

There is apparently a human gene mutation, "Mutation CCR-5-delta-32", which makes its holders nearly immune to AIDS, since this gene has no receptor for AIDS-similar viruses.

Whoever has inherited this gene from BOTH parents is fairly immune to AIDS. Whoever has inherited this gene from only ONE parent also has a good deal of immunity. (The immunity is not perfect in either case, since rare strains of AIDS can use the receptor CXCR 4).

Re:Old news (1)

xquark (649804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902994)

what! you saw something interesting on PBS?
geda-outta-here! :)

Arash

Uh, not news? (-1, Redundant)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902876)

Aside from the fact that this was on PBS a few years ago, hence not exactly news, it was posted on fark an hour or so ago.

Are they even trying anymore?

Re:Uh, not news? (1)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902917)

Yea, I thought this wasn't big news too. I saw it on PBS as well, a show about the mutations that modern day things like pennicillin cause in respriratory diseases in Russian prisons.

Re:Uh, not news? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903074)

dude, if you're in a russian prison, pennicillin-causing-mutations probably don't make the top 100 list of your current problems.

This could be fantastic news (3, Interesting)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902886)

As I understand it, Plauge is a bateria that can be treated these days. And a little bit of vaccine trivia for you:
Cow pox infection survivors didn't get Small pox, so that's how the innoculation for mankind's only "eliminated" disease began to be put under control.

Re:This could be fantastic news (5, Informative)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902948)

Vacca is latin for cow. The milkmaidens who had contracted cow pox were found to be more immune to small pox. The first 'vaccine' amounted to guesstimating the number and severity of scratches to hatch onto someone's arm then scabs from cowpox were rubbed into the wounds.This took place in England.

Initially few took up the practise. Interesting many clergymen dennounced the vaccine practise as sin. The clergy believed smallpox was god's design and all, even the children, who died of smallpox were decreed by god to so die. What finally turned the tide some years later was the adoption of the vaccine practise by a high ranking member of the British aristocracy. She (her name and title don't immediately come to mind) had her children vaccinated. The strong british caste system was momentum enough to swing favour toward vaccination.

Re:This could be fantastic news (4, Informative)

Coward, Anonymous (55185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903238)

What finally turned the tide some years later was the adoption of the vaccine practise by a high ranking member of the British aristocracy. She (her name and title don't immediately come to mind) had her children vaccinated.

It was the Princess of Wales (though she wasn't the first, she was the person who made it popular). See the Variolation section of this page [camlt.org] for more information. This form of vaccination had been practiced in Asia for a couple thousand years before making it to the West.

Re:This could be fantastic news (1)

takev (214836) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903270)

This story about this first vaccine and the inoculation of the British aristocracy, was incidentally on the BBC last night. But I didn't really watch it, so I don't know her name either

Re:This could be fantastic news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902951)

More trivia for ya: The (I think) Turks were innoculating themselves against smallpox in the time of Voltaire; 1716 or so. He convinced several lady friends of his in Paris to get this done for themselves and their children.

One problem (4, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902962)

Plague doesn't cause the mutation, it SELECTS the mutation.

i.e. if you don't have the mutation, plague won't give it to you. It just won't kill you even if you don't get treated if you have the mutation.

Re:One problem (1)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902981)

Well that still could be good, since if we get ourselves modified to be resistant to HIV, we might have a better immune defence against the Plauge too?

Re:One problem (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903021)

As the parent to my post said, plague can be treated. While some of the linked articles note many similarities between plague and AIDS in the methods they use to attack the body, there is one key difference between the two. AIDS is viral, plague is bacterial. As a result, plague can be treated easily with modern antibiotics. Thus, providing immunity to plague as a side effect of AIDS immunity is not relevant, since plague can already be treated.

So far, the art of modifying a person's genetic makeup is in its infancy. (In face, I'm not sure if it has ever even been done yet... Too much controversy, plus humans are much more complex than most of the organisms which have been modified with the most success, such as single celled bacteria which humans have been tweaking since the mid to late 1970s.)

The biggest significance of this article (the plague->CCR5 delta 32 connection) is that as a result of plague outbreaks hundreds of years ago, the delta 32 gene was selected in large portions of exposed populations. (Such as Europeans and descendants of Europeans). The mutation may not have been common enough to be discovered if not for that selection occuring in recent history.

Polio? (1)

Grendel Drago (41496) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902979)

Isn't polio relatively unknown nowadays as well? And if you want to talk about diseases, not just infections, you can add scurvy and pellagra to the list (with a large asterisk pointing out that food supply problems (i.e., famine) cause outbreaks).

Re:Polio? (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903155)

Isn't polio relatively unknown nowadays as well?

Nope [wikipedia.org] .

Re:This could be fantastic news (1)

heli0 (659560) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903000)

You saw that episode of "Connections" also?

Re:This could be fantastic news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903016)

No. I've just known for years that the vaccine for Small pox came from a modified version of cow pox initially.

So... (4, Insightful)

DeadPrez (129998) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902926)

So what's stopping me from having science insert that gene into my offspring?

Re:So... (4, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902931)

Nothing but cost, [lack of] technology, and religious fundamentalists, I think.

Re:So... (1)

ClamIAm (926466) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902964)

BONUS: Even some "fundamentalists" think it's OK to do gene swapping and all that. Dr. Frankenstein may have hope yet.

Re:So... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903030)

Hey, what's with the flamebait mod? All my post contains is a statement of fact; there's no value judgement attached.

Does somebody want to refute the statement that "religious fundamentalists could provide political opposition to inserting that gene into DeadPrez's offspring?"

Re:So... (1)

thatoneguy_jm (917104) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903186)

As a "religious fundamentalist," I wouldn't have any sort of problem with this - in fact, I would be interested in injecting my OWN children with it.

Re:So... (1)

Duncan3 (10537) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902997)

George Bush.

We have the technology, just noone willing to use it in the USA.

Our new genetic overlords will not be Americans.

gene hacks give you cancer (2, Interesting)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903013)

We're pretty crude about modifying DNA. When we cured a bunch of kids that had some lung-related genetic disease, a good number of them got cancer. It seems that we scrambled the DNA while patching it.

Re:So... (1)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903096)

The low probability of your ever producing offspring?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903098)

The fact that it's ridiculously expensive to have this treatment. Anyways, it wouldn't be "Science" as a disconnected entity just magically inserting genes into your genome.
Biology is the sloppiest of all sciences IMHO, and you'd probably get screwed over big time, using current technolgies. There's a big difference in engineering yeast to produce insulin (You can thank Zymogenetics for that one) and modifying a human genome to protect against a virus like HIV.

Re:So... (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903239)

So what's stopping me from having science insert that gene into my offspring?

A delta-32 dating service???

It's a shame that the topic has no relevance.. (3, Informative)

apoKalypse (568147) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902945)

to the website. The website is about researching into the gene CCR5 related to its ability to prevent infection from the Black Death, based on the research in 1996 that showed it was able to block out HIV infection.

Things like this put an interesting spin on... (3, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902966)

Things like this put an interesting spin on science in general. Trying not to be off topic here, but if we are to reach anything like a utopian state (think Star Trek here) then we, as a race, have to overcome quite a few thresholds. The number of people on the planet is one, the fact that modern medicine is allowing more mutations to survive, including weak mutations (read that as mutations that weaken the population over time rather than insert survival traits like immunity to AIDS).

The things that we are doing through science for money is going to become a wall that will stop us in the future, or can. Right now, it is unknown if our vegetable and foodstuffs are actually as valuable to the human body as they are supposed to be. I'm not talking about hamburgers, but raw vegetables. Pesticides and genetic modifications of crops is changing how they are used by the body.

Its not improbable that scientists could insert the immunity genes via foodstuffs in the near future, rather like making us all part of a super race... or rather the benefactors of the genetic makeup of superhumans. This process, in the course of history, has always wiped much of the world clean of the weaker specimens, leaving those with the stronger mutations to live on. That in turn drags down the rest of the population as genetic weakness is passed on.

This is a reasonable idea, just give the good genes to everyone.... but morally, that is the wrong thing to do. It will turn out that only those with an extra $150k will get the therapy... no insurance will cover it, 3rd world citizens can't buy it, and its not so different than what some of Hitler's folks were attempting to do (at least in some respects) ...

So, will it be superhumans or ginormous global conglomerates that run the future earth?

enhanced humans can't reproduce (2, Funny)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903036)

Corporations would patent the genes. If you had kids, you or they would be violating the patent. Probably your "enhanced" DNA would also contain a copy protection mechanism that you couldn't bypass without violating the DMCA. For example, you might be born without the necessary organs.

Re:Things like this put an interesting spin on... (1)

gninnor (792931) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903105)

The problem with some of the logic of this statement is that we can foresee all possible outcomes of genetically enhancing the sequence. I can think of white skin verses dark skin and sickle cell anemia. White skin is less likely to get frost bite but is more likely to get skin cancer. Wipe out that horrible disease sickle cell anemia, and you end up with the ability to get malaria.

Not to disagree with you, this is more an addition to a well thought out post.

Re:Things like this put an interesting spin on... (2, Insightful)

photon317 (208409) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903139)


Not to mention it's not a good idea to play with the gene pool on a global basis. A seemingly beneficial genetic fix might turn out to have unintended bad consequences that we don't realize until perhaps generations later. Imagine if we toyed with our genes to make the whole population AIDS-immune, and a few years later it turns out that this change made us highly susceptible to some other drastic and unpredictable issue. Imagine that the new issue quickly wiped virtually everyone who had the modification. This doesn't apply just to gene therapy (which would be almost impossible to do uniformly to every human alive on the planet), but also to unnatural genetic selection at birth. Gattaca-style screening to promote certain genes and discourage others could the same effect - tending over time to make the whole population a genetic monoculture (at least in the case of a few important genes, which might be all it takes to get us wiped out).

Don't get me wrong, I think that genetic experimentation and modification are the only way forward for the human race in the long run. Natural selection and evolution simply move too slowly to give us a high enough probability of truly long-term survival, and the era is upon us now where we should be taking the reigns from mother nature and directing ourselves towards a new future. But I think it is important that the future of gene-control happen in a distributed, loosely-controlled, highly-localized and private fashion. In that way, each seemingly positive genetic decision we make (say, to turn on a certain normally dormant gene in newborns and gain 30% more intelligence on average) will probably only be made to a small portion of the population initially, and spread slowly over the course of generations based on observation of it's true long term worth and of course a form of natural selection whereby those that have it tend to succeed in human society. That way if it is found that the new intelligence gene mod turns out to make us more succeptable to some new form of mad cow disease, we won't be at risk of losing such a huge portion of our population while we correct that little problem.

Re:Things like this put an interesting spin on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903150)

FUD. mod parent down.

Re:Things like this put an interesting spin on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903221)

LMFAO. Scared much?

Re:Things like this put an interesting spin on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13903161)

There was an article in the Atlantic May 2005 called "The Coming Death Shortage" that deals with the same issues.
It's Malthusian but searching for it on google turns up rebuttals in addition to the article itself.

Re:Things like this put an interesting spin on... (4, Interesting)

shmlco (594907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903227)

"The number of people on the planet is one..."

You should pick another boogeyman. Birth rates are declining worldwide. Over a third of all countries now have birth rates below replacement levels. Places like Japan, Italy, Germany, and Spain are expected to have population levels 30% lower than they are now by 2050.

The big factor is cities. Over 50% of the world's population now lives in a city. On a farm, more kids meant more helping hands. In a city those helping hands aren't needed, and in fact pull down prosperity levels. As such, people choose not to have them.

As China and India become more prosperous, they too will join the club.

In short, the "Population Bomb" was a dud.

Jeez... (4, Informative)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#13902975)

Nobody seems to have noticed that TFA is just a summary of a TV show. And one that doesn't seem to have that much to say about Delta 32 either. Anyway, judging from Google, Delta 32 is old news.

Re:Jeez... [Mod me flamebait already] (2, Funny)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903060)

This story is interesting, but as you mention, it isn't new.

This is the Zonk Effect in action. A mutation that Zonk has allows hime to think old news is news. So he forwards this. Another mutation causes Zonk to pass off press releases as news -- see today's "Microsoft as Vigilante" story.

Folks like you happen to have the "Google" mutation, which means that you are immune to mistaking old information for "new". When you see something interesting, you Google it, and immeditately discover that you've been "Zonked".

Thought this was "News" for Nerds. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13902984)


Ten years out of date, dude.

A little bit... (1)

ElNerdoJorge (923041) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903015)

of salt, a little bit of DNA with black death in it...

BAM, BAM, BAM!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for watching our show, the cure for HIV will be on next week again at 8:00 on the food network.

This is an American discovery (0, Flamebait)

TummyX (84871) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903063)

How can this be? It thought science in America was dead ...you know, with the fascist fundamentalist tyrant we have power who is worse than Saddam and Hitler combined??

Tell me how to think slashdot!!!!

Don't think of it as a a deadly epidemic.... (2, Interesting)

Plebiscite (924986) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903075)

..Think of it as a gift to future generations. There was a Secrets of the Dead episode about this on PBS which was pretty interesting. Mystery of the Black Death [pbs.org]

slashdot need to get with the times (1)

Cius (918707) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903076)

I've known about this for a while, the discovery channe did a special about this a while back. Slashdot needs to get with tbe times man. :-)

Gene links (4, Interesting)

br00tus (528477) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903228)

The CCR5 gene (which includes the CC5's with the delta 32 mutation) is on chromosome #3. You can look over the DNA code (nucleotides, codons etc.) and get more information on a number of sites:

UCSC Genome browser [ucsc.edu] - has the whole gene, but you can zoom in on segments if you want.

NIH [nih.gov] - this has links or links to links of everything you'd want to know.

Cure for HIV==genetic therapy (1)

aaron_ds (711489) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903253)

NEXT PROBLEM!!!

And thus we change our race (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 8 years ago | (#13903268)

So one guy is immune to HIV. We use virus carriers to alter our DNA to include that particular gene. Another guy is immune to so and so cancer. We all get that gene too, the way we get flu shots.

So in a few decades, do we all look alike? Do we all become equally vulnerable to a new strain?
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