Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Integrated HIV Successfully Cut Out of Human Genome

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the a-little-hunter-killer-nanotech-goes-a-long-way dept.

Biotech 185

Chris writes "German scientists have succeeded in snipping HIV out of human cells after it has integrated itself into a patient's DNA. The procedure is a breakthrough in bio-technology and fuels hope of a cure for AIDS. The group is only cautiously optimistic, though, as treating a full-on infection would be substantially different than succeeding in a controlled lab environment. 'Researchers ... began with the bacterial enzyme Cre recombinase, which exchanges any two pieces of DNA flanked on either end by a certain pattern of nucleotides (DNA subunits) known as loxP. HIV does not naturally contain loxP sites, so the team created a hybrid of the two DNA molecules, which they used to select a series of mutated Cre enzymes that were increasingly able to recognize the combined DNA. The final enzyme, Tre, removed all traces of HIV from cultured human cervical cells after about three months, the researchers report online today in Science.'"

cancel ×

185 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Translation, please. (0, Offtopic)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687739)

Can someone translate Doogie Howser's summary to English for us?

Re:Translation, please. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19687841)

Translation: RTFA.

Re:Translation, please. (2, Insightful)

gravos (912628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687873)

I read the first part of the article and it sounds like a pretty complex process. I don't think the summary is bad, just technical.

Re:Translation, please. (5, Informative)

Sox2 (785958) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687959)

Cre is an bacterial enzyme (a member of a family of enzymes called site specific recombinases) commonly used by researchers attempting genetic manipulations of dna. The cre enzyme recgonises a specific dna sequence (called LoxP sites) just over 30 letters (base pair) long and then catalyses a reaction which can either cut out dna, insert dna or reverse the orientation of dna flanked by loxp sites (precisely what the cre enzyme will do depends upon the number of sites and the order and orientation of the sites). The HIV virus does not contain LoxP sites so these guys "evolved" the cre enzyme by a selective process to recognise DNA sequences that were initially a hybrid of a part of the HIV virus sequence and the cre Loxp site. they continues this evolution until a modified Cre enzyme (now called Tre) could actually recognise the original HIV dna sequence. They then used this Tre enzyme to cut out the HIV virus dna that had inserted itself into the cell genomic dna, freeing the cells of the HIV virus. This is a pretty interesting article, however, as the authors state this is preliminary work. One problem i can envision stems from the fact that HIV virus often inserts itself numerous times into the host genome. When researchers are using cre they have to be careful about the number of copies of the Loxp site in the genome or it is possible for the cre enzyme to cause large deletions of genomic dna or even cause translocations (when the genomic dna found on one chromosome is erroneously attached to that of another chromosome). Such changes to the dna can be highly deleterious to the cell and initiate cancerous changes. hope this helps.

Re:Translation, please. (1)

utopianfiat (774016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688903)

Epic. op:hbt hth hhl hand. Take a bow, sir.

Re:Translation, please. (1)

vitality-jtw (1045542) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689413)

Easily the best post I've ever read on slashdot. Thanks for taking the time to do that.

"I want more life. Fucker!" (2, Insightful)

DaveCar (189300) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687965)


Bleh, TFS sounded like the virus/mutation conversation from Bladerunner to me.

Re:Translation, please. (5, Funny)

m_frankie_h (240122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688309)

Sure: Germans have created a variant of sed, that operates on DNA and used it to delete HIV.

Re:Translation, please. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688659)

FINALLY someone that speaks my language and can put it into terms I can understand! :)

Re:Translation, please. (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688919)

Bravo! That's the best metaphor/translation/analogy I've seen, maybe in my life. I understood the summary but this was a very, umm, insightful, and short and to the point.

Re:Translation, please. (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689147)

Well then all we need to do is write a simple script to iterate over all of the cells in the body and run the sed command. The list may be too long though, so we might have to use xargs, but that's no big deal.

I always knew shell scripting would save lives one day.

Re:Translation, please. (1)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689197)

Brilliant, my friend! Just plain brilliant! I wish I had mod points for you.

Re:Translation, please. (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689465)

It also seems they evolved their regexes by using mutation and selection.

Re:Translation, please. (5, Funny)

errxn (108621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688867)

Sure, here ya go:

"These German dudes ripped HIV out of your cells after it already got into your DNA. OMG! They think they might can cure AIDS with this. They're not too sure if it'll work, because it's gonna be WAY harder if you have AIDS real bad. 'The German dudes ... started out with this enzyme that'll swap out any DNA it finds that has these certain two nucleotide thingies on the ends of 'em with these mutant ones that they whipped up in the lab. Then this other one named Tre comes in, kicks ass, and takes names. After about 3 months, bye-bye, HIV! They were talking about it today in Science'"

Re:Translation, please. (4, Informative)

mcrumiller (597783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689059)

Sox2 explained it pretty well, I'll try to dumb it down even more. Certain enzymes recognize patterns on DNA, and chop them right at that location. HIV is a virus that inserts itself into your DNA (unlike most viruses, which just use your cells resources to reproduce). The scientists evolved an enzyme that recognizes the sites on either side of the HIV, chops them up, and splices them back together--effectively removing the HIV. The reason it's "preliminary work" and not a magical cure is because the 'patterns' recognized by the enzymes (and the enzymes themselves) were morphed into "fake" sites. In actuality, it's much harder to create enzymes that recognize the actual patterns of the HIV. In addition, these enzymes might find patterns elsewhere in DNA and accidentally chop up your DNA in the wrong locations, removing important parts of your DNA.

In the shower.... (2, Funny)

wolf08 (1008623) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687741)

Alright, I must be crazy. I was just thinking about HIV in the shower, and a similar idea came to my mind. Now it wasn't identical-that would have been freaky-but similar enough to make my hair stand up when I read the first /. entry this morning

Re:In the shower.... (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687783)

Yeah... because the scientist just thought about it today and developed this by lunch. They said "what a bunch of idiots we are for not thinking of this sooner".

Re:In the shower.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19687901)

I just hope you weren't thinking 'Gee I wonder if this guy is going to give me HIV' while you were in the shower.

Re:In the shower.... (5, Interesting)

The-Ixian (168184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688085)

Do you, by any chance, wake up to public radio or similar? I find that sometimes the first 10 minutes or so of what is said on the radio, before I become fully cognizant, gets absorbed into my subconscious so that I think it is weird when I hear the same bit of news later in the day.

Re:In the shower.... (2, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688519)

Alright, I must be crazy. I was just thinking about HIV in the shower, and a similar idea came to my mind.

You liar. The truth is that you were standing on the toilet fixing something and you tripped and fell and hit your head. Then you came up with two ideas: a) fixing HIV, and b) the flux capacitor.

Re:In the shower.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19688755)

Alright, I must be crazy. I was just thinking about HIV in the shower

Are you currently serving time in prison by any chance?

Re:In the shower.... (1)

ggambett (611421) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689119)

Dude, don't remove your tinfoil hat on the shower. You obviously picked up Slashdot from a nearby wifi.

Different Strains? (4, Insightful)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687743)

They are about 26 different stains of HIV. Article didn't mention it but I am curious if each strain might require a different technique or if this is strain independent? Either way pretty cool stuff.

Re: Different Strains? (0)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687805)

Accorrding to the summary, this will work on exactly zero of the strains. They had to cheat to get this enzyme added to HIV to make this experiment work.

Re: Different Strains? (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687821)

0 for 26 not bad then. I need to stick with readings more my level: Curious George or on a good day Dr. Seuss

Re: Different Strains? (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688263)

Don't underestimate Fox in Socks, that book is brutal.

Re: Different Strains? (3, Insightful)

torstenvl (769732) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689303)

You fail at reading comprehension.

HIV does not naturally contain loxP sites, so the team created a hybrid of the two DNA molecules, which they used to select a series of mutated Cre enzymes that were increasingly able to recognize the combined DNA. The final enzyme, Tre, removed all traces of HIV from cultured human cervical cells after about three months, the researchers report online today in Science.
When "a series of mutated" forms of X are "select[ed for,]" resulting in a "final" Y, that's evolution, not contrivance. The initial cutting with Cre was contrived; Tre is a new enzyme which doesn't need the LoxP sites and recognizes HIV as it is.

Basically, they played that "You have 5 steps to change NET to PAWN changing/adding/removing one letter each time: NET NEW SEW SAW PAW PAWN" game with an enzyme.

Incredible (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19687745)

Did they do it with an iPhone?

Haha! LMAO! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19687771)

Well done - /.ers are so daft!!!!!111!!!!!oneon

Let me guess (4, Funny)

yabos (719499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687747)

They used the transporter and the pattern from when the person beamed down on the away mission...

Re:Let me guess (0, Redundant)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688527)

Beaming is a far cry from reality, so of course this wasn't done on an away team on the planet, they did it on away cells on the petri dish. But else, I guess you could be right.

Re:Let me guess (0, Offtopic)

yabos (719499) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688589)

It's a Star Trek joke, come one man!

Slight Clarification (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687749)

I read about this in PhysOrg [physorg.com] yesterday and they speak more about something the last paragraph of Scientific American only mentions. The fact that they wouldn't use this enzyme to remove HIV infections but instead to figure out which cells have been infected. The biggest problem in treating HIV is that it can go dormant and undetected for so long during which the host can infect others. It sounds horrible, but even being able to destroy all the cells infected with the virus is worth something though it may often prove fatal to the host. I don't think this is a 'cure' or 'vaccine' merely something that makes HIV treatments much much more effective.

Re:Slight Clarification (1)

gravos (912628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687935)

Wait, is this a clever troll?

"even being able to destroy all the cells infected with the virus is worth something though it may often prove fatal to the host"

You're suggesting it's worth it to kill people if we get the virus in the process?

Re:Slight Clarification (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688049)

I doubt that's what the GP meant.

Unless it is, in which case he/she is advocating that we kill people infected with HIV, which is serious douchebag behavior.

Re:Slight Clarification (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688521)

Think of it like treating cancer with chemotherapy. If you don't treat the person they will die. However, using this technique, if you catch it early enough, you can kill all the infected cells without killing the host. If you wait too long, the number of cells you have to kill becomes higher, and the risk of death to the host becomes higher. This is basically how chemotherapy and radiation treatment work. You kill all the cells in the affected area, and hope you don't kill the host in the process.

Re:Slight Clarification (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689117)

If the drug's targeted enough that it only kills infected cells, I don't see it killing many people from that alone. Still, HIV infects white blood cells. Killing off all the infected cells could seriously compromise an immune system even worse than AIDS.

You'd probably have to stick them in an isolated ward and on all sorts of antibiotics and such to try to prevent opportunistic diseases.

Even if it only 'kills' half the cells infected, it'd probably do wonders for the average virus load of somebody infected. Get enough of them and you should be able to avoid progressions into AIDS.

Re:Slight Clarification (4, Interesting)

asliarun (636603) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687949)

Yes, and I'm happy to see that at least we're making *some* progress. I'm also saddened to see that apart from HIV, there is hardly any research going on to find cures for infectious diseases (TB, Malaria, viral diseases), at least when compared to the obscene amount of money being thrown into chronic or "lifestyle" diseases like diabetes and hypertension. This is all the more disturbing considering that infectious diseases afflict and kill so many more people than chronic diseases. It just so happens that most of the people afflicted happen to be from developing or poor countries, and hence, are not the target market segment for big pharma.

An interesting idea that I read somewhere proposed the setting up of Ansari-X style rewards or competitions for the company or team that first finds a cure/vaccine for these unfashionable diseases. This also becomes an easy way out for charity foundations like the Gates foundation, who're actually trying to do something meaningful in this field. Instead of giving grants to researchers much like a venture capitalist, perhaps instituting sizable multi-million dollar rewards is a better incentive for researchers. Plus, there is no need to monitor the charity money to make sure that it is being utilized properly. But then again, this might simply be an oversimplified solution to the problem.

Re:Slight Clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19688275)

there is hardly any research going on to find cures for infectious diseases (TB, Malaria, viral diseases)

Especially considering that HIV transmission is 100% preventable.

Re:Slight Clarification (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688571)

Well, given our "lifestyle" isn't really changing (but actually getting worse), I'd say that soon more people will die due to their "living circumstances" (i.e. unhealthy food and lack of any kind of movement that doesn't require kicking the throttle pedal) than to diseases. If that didn't happen long ago.

This aside, I would suggest your idea of "money for results" movement, but realize that research ain't something you can do in a garage with a few bucks of your spare money. You first of all have to throw a ton of cash into it before anything sensible comes out of it. I'd rather see that multi million paycheck as the additional carrot in front of their nose, and maybe tied to an incentive to make that cure available not only to the 500 riches people who can afford it, but essentially also to those that need it most and can it afford it least. Like, say, the millions of infected in Africa.

Re:Slight Clarification (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19688743)

It just so happens that most of the people afflicted happen to be from developing or poor countries, and hence, are not the target market segment for big pharma.
Hold on there squirt. You think there could possibly be a reason most people afflicted are in developing/poor countries? That pretty much says we have solved the problem already. Consider if all the other countries are unaffected then obviously the problem is able to be taken care of (assuming proper assets are available).

This says it's a logical problem not a technology problem. Most 3rd world countries are 3rd world countries because of their ass governmental design.

Re:Slight Clarification (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688831)

The research for new medications usually result in expensive drugs so they are usually targeted at a first-world market. A lot of R&D is also done to lower the cost of known medication that could prevent millions of deaths but that are just too expensive today.

Re:Slight Clarification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19689337)

Ummm some of us with diabetes did not get a "lifestyle" disease.

Some of us were born with it...

Seems like cheating (4, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687759)

...began with the bacterial enzyme Cre recombinase, which exchanges any two pieces of DNA flanked on either end by a certain pattern of nucleotides (DNA subunits) known as loxP.

HIV does not naturally contain loxP sites, so the team created a hybrid of the two DNA molecules, which they used to select a series of mutated Cre enzymes that were increasingly able to recognize the combined DNA.

So...this technique won't work at all in the real world. It won't even work with actual HIV even in the lab.

It's interesting research for its own sake, but in this case it has absolutely nothing to do with HIV. They simply found an interesting way to remove an arbitrary snippet of DNA. In fact, to make it work with HIV, they had to cheat and add tags to the HIV sequence.

This is like saying I could break into a bank vault after I replaced the lock with one I knew the combination to. It says nothing about the bank, only that I possess the capability to manipulate locks.

Proof of concept (4, Interesting)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687781)

Think of this as an initial proof-of-concept. Fiddling with DNA is extremely useful - correcting genetic diseases and curing all sorts of viruses that hang out in your cells comes to mind (e.g. herpes). You could even look at curing cancer, since that's typically due to genetic mutations that could be potentially removed, making cells non-cancerous again.

Eventually, you'll want to be able to recognize and remove longer strands of DNA. I'd also worry about the efficiency - randomly removing strands of DNA from healthy cells is a good way to cause big problems. Existing gene therapies that use viruses to deliver the payload sometimes go astray and cause cancer, which is no good.

Re:Proof of concept (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687981)

Right. I'd imagine using some other technique of targetting HIV would be what they'd use IRL. Maybe a genetically-engineered virus designed to attack various HIV strains?

Re:Proof of concept (3, Insightful)

StuckInSyrup (745480) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688615)

Maybe a genetically-engineered virus designed to attack various HIV strains?

No. That's not how a virus works. A virus, outside of a living cell is a inert bunch of proteins, nucleic acids and sometimes lipids. A "genetically-engineered" virus could only work if it would infect the same cell as the HIV. If two different viruses infect the same cell, a process called interference can occur. This can screw both of the virus types, but the cell is screwed as well. And to kill all of the HIV infected cells, we would need the engineered virus to be more infective as HIV. So essentialy we would end up killing HIV with some kind of uber-HIV. No good.

Re:Proof of concept (4, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688171)

Think of this as an initial proof-of-concept. Fiddling with DNA is extremely useful - correcting genetic diseases and curing all sorts of viruses that hang out in your cells comes to mind (e.g. herpes). You could even look at curing cancer, since that's typically due to genetic mutations that could be potentially removed, making cells non-cancerous again.

No doubt. I definitely think the technique stands on its own as far as coolness factor.

What I find slightly annoying is the perceived need to validate it by linking it to HIV, which seems completely irrelevant to the actual research since the DNA segment in question could have been anything. Worse yet, it doesn't even recognize HIV at all as the headlines claim - it simply recognizes anchor groups (which HIV does not possess) and removes whatever happens to be between them. Sure, it recognizes HIV that is artificially tagged with these groups, but it would find any DNA sequence tagged with the groups. So what does this research have to do with HIV? Absolutely nothing. Seems like name-dropping to me.

I realize much of this effect is due to the funding climate in academia, which makes it impossible to get money these days unless you're coat-tailing on a handful of high-profile buzzwords. But I still find over-aggressive promotion of one's results to be distasteful. Naturally, these guys aren't the first and won't be the last.

Re:Seems like cheating (3, Insightful)

BlueLightSpecial (898144) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687863)

It may be 'cheating' but it does prove that the process can be done. It proves that one can cut HIV, albeit a prepared version, out of DNA If the procedure can be done under perfect lab conditions, it can be tweaked and changed to work outside the lab A major accomplishment if you ask me

Re:Seems like cheating (5, Informative)

JimbleBimble (1057548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688077)

The final enzyme did work with real HIV in the lab. They identified a site in HIV similar to the cre binding motif, but which cre was not able to bind. They created intermediate sequences to bridge the gap between the cre binding site and this HIV sequence. Using directed evolution they could evolve cre to bind sites progressively more unlike the cre site and progressively more like the HIV site. The final outcome was an enzyme able to excise sequences flanked by the HIV specific pattern.

Re:Seems like cheating (4, Informative)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688357)

Here's the paper [sciencemag.org] . I'm not a cell biologist, but from my limited understanding you're exactly correct.

Re:Seems like cheating (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688677)

... They created intermediate sequences to bridge the gap between the cre binding site and this HIV sequence. Using directed evolution ....
-----
Damn, this means it will never work in Kansas.

Re:Seems like cheating (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688833)

The final enzyme did work with real HIV in the lab. They identified a site in HIV similar to the cre binding motif, but which cre was not able to bind. They created intermediate sequences to bridge the gap between the cre binding site and this HIV sequence. Using directed evolution they could evolve cre to bind sites progressively more unlike the cre site and progressively more like the HIV site. The final outcome was an enzyme able to excise sequences flanked by the HIV specific pattern.

Ah! If that's the case then my mistake; I wasn't able to get that out of the damned Scientific American writeup. That makes a lot more sense. Thanks for the info.

Re:Seems like cheating (1)

jcuervo (715139) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688193)

In fact, to make it work with HIV, they had to cheat and add tags to the HIV sequence.
So what happens when they figure out how to automate the process of adding tags to the HIV sequence?

Re:Seems like cheating (3, Funny)

KutuluWare (791333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688641)

So what happens when they figure out how to automate the process of adding tags to the HIV sequence?
You get HIV flickr?

Re:Seems like cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19688415)

Its an interesting idea. I was recently reading about lytic and temperate phages and it was stated in the article that "there is no way to remove them." So at least theres no a way to remove the sequences. I am wondering what happens to the cells genome after the virus is excised. Are there cellular mechanisms already in place to repair the damage? Also, delivering the enzyme into the cells in question seems a bit tricky outside of cell culture (Not that it sounds incredibly easy in cell culture).

Re:Seems like cheating (1)

Gufry (803129) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688435)

No - if you read the actual Science article you'll notice that they only used the loxP-LTR fusion as a starting poitn to evolve an enzyme they dubbed 'Tre' which can recognize HIV LTRs. They wind up demonstrating that it can excise HIV from a genome. Seriously, CRE recombination has been around for decades. If they had simply shown that CRE can excise an HIV genome flanked by lox sites, it wouldn't have been in Science.

Re:Seems like cheating (1)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688467)

Another question is how much of the HIV DNA would you have to remove to render it inert? Or hell, just make it produce bad (as in neutered) copies in cells? Surely nearly all strains of HIV have some fundamental part of the genome in common. If so, this would be potentially very helpful (in the distant future)

Cool, but very far from a strategy for a cure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19687839)

An extremely cool piece of engineering. Probably impossible to apply large scale. If applied large scale,
 
  I believe the risks of faulty snippet cutting would be quite significant:

Assume the protein mutates every so slightly, or just assembles in a slightly different conformation, which would accept a slightly different DNA sequence, with a single nucleotide wrong compared to loxP (lets call this sequence loxP*). Maybe this loxP* appears somewhere else in this persons genome (or even the loxP). Then she will be in big trouble. As we all know every individiual has a unique genome, and therefore it is difficult to test if the loxP or the loxP* exists anywhere in the full genome. It not enough just to check the genome of this person either, has every person has several millions of mutations in the active cells in their body (part of the immune system).

Growing intelligence (1)

weinrich (414267) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687853)

the team created a hybrid of the two DNA molecules, which they used to select a series of mutated Cre enzymes that were increasingly able to recognize the combined DNA.
That's a powerful statement.

Ob Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19687869)

"Good news everyone!"

New Name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19687905)

"the team created a hybrid of the two DNA molecules"
 
...and they named it Farfegnugen.

Sounds like a job for McAfee... (0, Redundant)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687941)

Kinda makes me wonder why we never thought of this before...

Wow. (1)

fudgefactor7 (581449) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687945)

Although I feel this may also be "cheating", as Mr. Underbridge points out, I don't care. It gets us in the door, allows us to wedge it open, and take out what we want. I look it it more like "painting" a tank with a laser target so the smart-bomb knows where to strike. This is still a pretty good milestone. Maybe, just maybe, in my lifetime, we'll see this disease destroyed. I would like to live to see that.

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19688001)

Well said. Every little bit of research toward the goal of curing HIV will be recognized as valuable and important when the cure is eventually found. These researchers can be as cautious as they like with their optimism, I'll take care of the bubbly giddiness until they're ready for it.

Re:Wow. (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688115)

No, it's not like painting a tank with a laser... it's like hanging a bomb over the tank using a crane.

All they demonstrated was that if you add LoxP sites to a DNA sequence, you can then cut the segment out using Cre recombinase - something the scientific community was doing for a decade now, when we design conditional knockouts. But just cause the DNA sequences happened to be HIV, this is now ground-breaking news?

A good analogy would be an article about a new way to identify Iraqi insurgents among the civilian population and kill them... with the NEW method being that we dress the insurgents in bright orange jackets with a big bullseye on the chest and back... then shoot them from point blank range.

HIV hybridizes (2, Interesting)

Breakingpoint (1121971) | more than 7 years ago | (#19687999)

This is a big deal because it shows that this technique which has been used for years to cut out fragments of the genome for replication (via PCR and other methods) could be used to remove the viral elements from a genome. It's a big deal research-wise, but the major problem that will hinder this application from practical application is that HIV hybridizes EXTREMELY fast. Using an artificial bacterial enzyme to remove dna fragments requires a specific nucleotide sequence that it targets. Since HIV "changes appearance" (it actually mutates) at a super accelerated rate (100,000+ faster than animal genome) it makes treating (in this case removing) the virus very difficult. This is the same reason that current HIV treatments are effective at first, but slowly become less and less effective as the virus hybridizes. I'm not sure about needing a different enzyme for every strain of HIV, but that certainly makes sense. I don't claim to be an expert on this topic, but I certainly find it interesting. Just my 2 cents...

YOu missed the point... (1)

bodland (522967) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688777)

"HIV does not naturally contain loxP sites, so the team created a hybrid of the two DNA molecules, which they used to select a series of mutated Cre enzymes that were increasingly able to recognize the combined DNA." - They are not looking for the HIV DNA but they are finding it by looking for where it is not and then cutting it out. To prove they removed it they first had to mark it so they could prove it. Any effective treatment later would be difficult because you are are removing chunks of DNA from cells you "assume" are viral DNA. This sounds very important though. (I'm not a molecular biologist)

Regardless of the hybridization that HIV may undergoes the point here is that they engineered a way to recognize the HIV DNA because it "lacks" something that is found on normal DNA in this case a particular sequence that marks the point where HIV DNA is inserted into the normal DNA sequence. My take on this is that is akin to:
Think of a DNA sequence like a hotdog. (I know simple, simple) Take the hotdog and slice it in the middle, then take another hot dog and add a section of the second hotdog to the first. This simulates the HIV sequence hiding in the host cell's DNA. Now look at it. We can find the area where it is spliced because we can see the cut marks. Even if we switch from differing brands and types of hotdogs we will still be able to identify where the viral "hotdog" was inserted and is hiding by looking for the cut "ends" of the normal hotdog and remove the "invading" hotdog piece in the middle. and splice the original hotdog back together.

The end result is that the virus does not "destroy" the T-Cell when it activates and replicates itself. Given that a hiding virus DNA strand in a T-Cell is eventually a "killed" t-cell I see the development of this bacteria DNA cutter will develop rapidly. Fascinating stuff...

DNA Spoofing ? (4, Interesting)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688027)

Could this lead to people getting away with murder because they can alter their DNA ?
Could this lead to people being framed for murder due to spoofed DNA ?

This sounds like it could destroy the credibility of DNA evidence for high-profile cases in the future.

Re:DNA Spoofing ? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688161)

>Could this lead to people being framed for murder due to spoofed DNA ?

spoofed DNA? I thought it would be easer to acquire the 'patsy's' dna from their garbage or by breaking into their house. Heck, if they donate blood, break into the bloodbank and take their bag.

Re:DNA Spoofing ? (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688259)

Do you understand what I mean by the procedure being successfull destroying the credibility of DNA as "rock solid" evidence though ?

Re:DNA Spoofing ? (2, Funny)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688577)

The good news is you can avoid prosecution based on DNA evidence.
The bad news is you will have two heads, flippers instead of arms, and sneeze bile.

Re:DNA Spoofing ? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688787)

ah, I see. I do now. Didn't think that is what you meant. Now that you mention it.

Prosecutor: So how do you propose your DNA got into the grassy knoll?

Me: the CIA made it and planted it there.

Court: *chuckes and whispers* 'deluded crackpot'.....

Re:DNA Spoofing ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19689243)

Could this lead to people being framed for murder due to spoofed DNA

Didn't they use spoof DNA from Lewinski's dress to nab Clinton?

Re:DNA Spoofing ? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688363)

It took longer than usual for one of you technological pessimists to pipe up :)

My guess is that you couldn't change too much of your own DNA without messing yourself up pretty badly. If people started using this as a masking technology, you would have to change the testing method to only include genes that you can't really touch, or maybe just screen for telltale enzymes of genetic manipulation. In the end it would be like trying to bleach off your fingerprints.

To add fuel to your fire, they'll have to test athletes for this, too! :)

Re:DNA Spoofing ? (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688477)

By the time criminals have the kind of tools in their hands there probably are new techniques to counter them... Besides, there's not much use to spoof the dna, if all the dozens of other clues have not been set-up.

Re:DNA Spoofing ? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688625)

Hmm... cure for AIDS or infallable proof in crime... cure or proof...

Personally, I can choose easily. But then again, I usually value life more than property, so my view might be crooked.

Re:DNA Spoofing ? (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688705)

Probably not, if he wants to reproduce, or grow hair, or smell something, or stop bleeding, or avoid cancer, or avoid his white bloodcells attacking him.

Concidence? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688143)

This weeks Escape Pod Podcast [escapepod.org] (hosted by Steve Eley) is called the Giving Plague and touches on viruses, HIV, and the potential symbiotic relationship and borg like integration viruses can have with Human cells.

One of the thoughts is that viruses actually benefit the race in the long term, as we will eventually form a symbiotic relationship with the majority of them. (uses e-coli in our gut as an example), but how one day someone will be resistant to AIDS and that will make the human race stronger.

A good listen if you're fascinated by this topic. check it out. non-disclaimer: I'm just a fan.

Re:Concidence? (1)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688231)

One of the thoughts is that viruses actually benefit the race in the long term, as we will eventually form a symbiotic relationship with the majority of them. (uses e-coli in our gut as an example)

Hmmm, they use e-coli as an example when discussing the benificial properties of viruses? I would say that they take a credibility hit for that one!

Re:Concidence? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688679)

is set in the future.... and proposes that one day e-coli actually benefits our digestive system rather than rips though it, once we have 'assimilated it'...

Not talking current day, but sry if i wasnt clear.

Re:Concidence? (1)

White Shade (57215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688767)

I think what he was referring to is the fact that e. coli is a bacteria, not a virus....

Re:Concidence? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688873)

>>e. coli is a bacteria, not a virus....

didnt know that. Cheers.

stupid podcast!

Re:Concidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19688895)

You'll be happy to know there are already people with natural resistance to HIV virus, see http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/1996pres/960926.html [hhs.gov] for more detail.

Nobody's concerned? (0, Troll)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688663)

I'm surprised that (at least reading at +3) I haven't seen any comments about the fearful implications of this.

Let's see - if I understand correctly, we've developed the capability to engineer something that can go in and ERASE very specific segments of people's DNA? I'm sure the biowarfare guys are going to have a field day with that. I'm a little concerned about the outlook for the rest of us, however. The White Plague, anyone?

Re:Nobody's concerned? (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689105)

I really wouldn't worry about that. Sure, it could potentially make a weapon, if properly worked upon with that goal in mind. You would have to be pretty dedicated though. And it would have the side effect of attacking all humans because of the similarities of DNA and the probabilities of mutation... who would want to create a weapon to kill everyone on the planet when we already have so many. Smallpox would make a far more viable weapon, or an old fashioned cobalt bomb.

The fact is we've already reached doomsday as far as weapons are concerned, but we're still doing ok.

wild idea (1)

javilon (99157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688689)

Ok, this is my wild idea.

We know that we can "reboot" the immune system by destroying the bone marrow and repopulating it with new one coming from a donor.

Now lets say that we do an autotransplant. First we take a sample from the donor and then this sample is treated with the enzyme so all of the HIV's DNA is removed. Next, we introduce a gene on this cultured cells that will produce the enzyme, thus rendering them immune to infection. Next we destroy the donor's bone marrow and implant the new one.

There will be infected T cells left behind, but they won't reproduce as they are outside the bone marrow and they would eventually die.

Could this ever work?

Re:wild idea (4, Informative)

StuckInSyrup (745480) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688997)

This idea is based on a widely disseminated misconception, that T-cells don't reproduce when out of bone marrow. They do, and happily so, after being activated by other cells, antigens, cytokines and a bunch of other means.
Your method has been tried, in a way. A patient's blood was essentially flushed with healthy blood from donors, so his whole blood was exchanged. It did no good in the long term, because the HIV infects also macrophages in other tissues than blood. The next wave of the infection came from those macrophages.

Re:wild idea (1)

javilon (99157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689083)

But this is based on the idea that the new T cells coming from the bone marrow would be immune to infection. Eventually they would be the only ones around and the HIV wouldn't have room on them. Can the HIV live in a host where it can't infect the T cells?

"Cautious" is right (2, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688697)

They've done it in vitro in a lab. Which is a good start, but that doesn't mean you can now safely screw anything that walks.

They probably haven't developed anything which they could conceivably be administered to a living organism yet - let alone tried administering it to one. Then you've got a battery of tests to make sure it's safe and effective - there's probably at least another 10 years before this could really be a treatment.

The great majority of potential treatments never make it through that development/testing process.

oblig (1)

negated (981743) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688805)

I, for one, welcome our new Tre-enzyme mutant HIV-resistant overlords...
-S

Scientists planning delivery mechanism. (1)

Churla (936633) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688869)

Scientists were also overheard talking about the optimal delivery mechanism for this gene splicing technology being a radioactive spider. Further field tests are needed.

REGEX (0)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#19688915)

began with the bacterial enzyme Cre recombinase, which exchanges any two pieces of DNA flanked on either end by a certain pattern of nucleotides (DNA subunits) known as loxP

So they can regex DNA now. Sweet.

Re:REGEX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19689215)

Wow, I thought the exact same thing.

s/(?<TA)GC(?=TA)/TA/gm

Oh, come on, guys! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19688991)

We don't get laid and we don't inject drugs. How is a nerd supposed to get AIDS (Anal Intercourse Death Syndrome)?

Oh wait, I must have read the article wrong. There must be a new Windows threat called the Heuristic Interloping Vector, Antagonistic Insecurity Device for Suckers. So, is this a virus, a trojan, or a worm? I mean, the article says it's a virus but they call trojans "viruses" all the time. Any crackers [wikipedia.org] out there care to explain this to me?

Re:Oh, come on, guys! (1)

HikingStick (878216) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689307)

While I normally would not dignify such a comment with a reply, I must state this: if you are ignorant of how high heterosexual HIV infection rates are around the world, then you are simply to be pitied.

Next step? (1)

Lt.Hawkins (17467) | more than 7 years ago | (#19689043)

Wish yourself Outside and create the recolada.

Re:Next step? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19689295)

I would, but I don't need another set of siblings.

treatment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19689397)

From what I read in a newspaper article [jornada.unam.mx] (in spanish though).

Says (for all of you non-spanish speakers) there is "slight hope" for treatment to exist in 10 years.
and the "complicated" treatment would be (according to newspaper and my weird translation).
"..to obtain stem cells from the patient's blood, 'clean' them of the virus in the lab. Then these treated cells would be reintroduced into the patient and should regenerate their immune system.
Although, by this method it is highly unlikely that it will be possible to completely remove the virus from the patient, Hauber does hope that there would be enough removal of the virus to control the infection.
'This is high-technology medicine, and can't be administered in form of a pill (duh', indicated the scientist. In case mutations occured in the ends of the sequence of the virus, recombinases could be adapted quickly.."
It also mentions that the treatment would be cheaper compared to current treatments that supposedly range around $20,000 usd yearly.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?