A decade ago, the bells of doom started to sound for carefree, swinging koalas. A new, HIV-like retrovirus had begun to attack the koala population, decimating its ranks and threatening extinction.
Now, the Australian researchers have launched an effort to stop the spread of the virus before it's too late.
Though the University of Utah in Salt Lake City might not be the first place one would expect to find researchers getting experimental in the bedroom, a team of scientists there have developed a new gel that can quickly shift from liquid to solid, for use in a vaginal condom that more easily protects against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Using special techniques developed to sequence RNA, researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, have published the first complete genome of HIV. Laying bare the complete genetic make up of the virus opens up a new era of research, drastically widens the possible experiments that scientists can perform on the virus, and may significantly accelerate our understanding of how HIV infects humans and evades our immune system.
A new map of the spread of HIV infection in Europe indicates that the virus traveled from major holiday destinations -- Greece, Portugal and Spain -- to northern European countries, New Scientist reports. A virologist determined how the virus evolved by sequencing parts of the virus genome from subjects throughout Europe -- 1,337 people from at least 11 countries. While a number of Mediterranean countries appeared to be sources for the virus, the UK, Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Israel appeared to be hubs, through which the virus both came and went.
When it comes to viruses, especially the serious kind that can make you bleed from your eye sockets and wipe out entire villages, most people naturally prefer to keep their distance. Not Nathan Wolfe. The 39-year-old epidemiologist has spent the past 10 years hunting them down in the jungles of Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. By collecting thousands of blood samples from wild animals and the people who live in close contact with them, Wolfe and his team have uncovered new viruses related to HIV and smallpox. He's even documented how these animal-borne killers leap to humans, with blood serving as a vector in transmitting viruses from slaughtered animals to hunters.
It has long been known that contracting HIV through oral sex is rare. Klara Hasselrot of Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet recently wrapped up a study--detailed in a forthcoming paper in the international AIDS journal AIDS--that might shed some light on why this is. It provides the first-ever evidence that humans can develop resistance to HIV in their saliva.
At first it sounds like a terrible plan, the kind that results in zombies ruling the Earth. Imagine a killer virus, a bug that mutates so often that it inevitably finds a way to resist every drug. Now, rather than fight its ability to evolve, you enhance it. You speed up the mutation rate, forcing such dramatic genetic change that the virus crashes completely. In the movies, this technique, known as lethal mutagenesis, would create a supergerm, but in real life it's spawning a powerful new class of antiviral drugs.
At CES, where Resident Evil 5 will soon be projected onto the side of Planet Hollywood, video games are everywhere. But some go beyond mere entertainment. During his keynote speech today, Intel chairman Craig Barrett talked about how technology can help people in the developing world. One of the most interesting efforts he mentioned: Warner Brothers Interactive recently created a PC game that uses an engaging story to teach Kenyan teens about HIV prevention.
Holy crap. These guys in Germany just cured AIDS!
Of course, the procedure is so expensive, complicated, and risky that it's not replicable as a large-scale public health strategy, but we'll ignore that for a minute. Here's how they did it.
One can hardly fathom the horror of life in the Congo Free State during the turn of the last century when native Africans suffered genocide at the hand of Belgium’s King Leopold II. In those conditions, no one would have noticed people dying of a strange disease that would not be named for another hundred years. No one would have noticed people dying of AIDS.