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A Drug To Re-Awaken Ancient Human Genes And Fight HIV
io9 ^ | 4/27/09 | Annalee Newitz

Posted on 04/29/2009 1:48:12 PM PDT by LibWhacker

"Junk DNA" are inactive parts of your genome, switched off long ago in evolutionary history. Now scientists say there's a junk gene that fights HIV. And they've discovered how to turn it back on.

What these scientists have done could give us the first foolproof HIV vaccine. They have re-awakened the human genome's latent potential to make us all into HIV-resistant creatures. This evening in PLoS Biology, they've published their ground-breaking research.

A group of scientists led by Nitya Venkataraman and Alexander Colewhether wanted to try a new approach to fighting HIV - one that worked with the body's own immune system. They knew Old World monkeys had a built-in immunity to HIV: a protein called retrocyclin, which can prevent HIV from entering cell walls and starting an infection. So they began poring over the human genome, looking to see if humans had a latent gene that could manufacture retrocyclin too. It turned out that we did, but a "nonsense mutation" in the gene had turned it off at some point in our evolutionary history.

Nonsense mutations are caused when random DNA code shows up in the middle of a gene, preventing it from beginning the process of manufacturing proteins in the cell. Venkataraman and her team decided to investigate this gene further, doing a series of tests to see if the retrocyclin it produced would keep HIV out of human cells. It did.

At last, they knew that if they could just figure out a way to reawaken the "junk" gene that creates retrocyclin in humans, they might be able to stop HIV infections. The researchers just needed to figure out a way to remove that nonsense mutation and get the target gene to start manufacturing retrocyclin again.

Here's where things really get interesting. The team found a way to use a compound called aminoglycosides, which itself can cause errors when RNA transcribes information from DNA to make proteins. But this time, the aminoglycoside error would work in their favor: It would cause that RNA to ignore the nonsense mutation in the junk gene, and therefore start making retrocyclin again. In preliminary tests, their scheme worked. The human cells made retrocyclin, fended off HIV, and effectively became AIDS-resistant. And it was done entirely using the latent potential in the so-called junk DNA of the human genome.

After more research is done, the researchers believe this might become a viable way to make humans immune to HIV infection.

What intrigues me, beyond the amazing idea of an AIDS vaccine, is that aminoglycosides have the potential to unlock the uses for other pieces of junk DNA. Those of you who read Greg Bear's novel Darwin's Radio know that this scenario is familiar scifi territory: In that book, humans start rapidly evolving after their junk DNA re-awakens in response to stress. Could we induce instant mutations, or gain other new immunities by using aminoglycosides on our junk DNA? What would it mean to have the whole crazy, giant human genome at our command?


TOPICS: Health/Medicine; Science
KEYWORDS: dna; genes; godsgravesglyphs; hiv; junk; retrocyclin

1 posted on 04/29/2009 1:48:13 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

Am I the only one who gets creeped out by the idea of some scientist tinkering with my genes?


2 posted on 04/29/2009 1:52:39 PM PDT by Ellendra (Can't starve us out, and you can't make us run...Country folks CAN survive!!! -Hank Jr.)
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To: LibWhacker
Now scientists say there's a junk gene that fights HIV. And they've discovered how to turn it back on.

Is this on the level... or are these the same guys that believe global warming is imminent?

3 posted on 04/29/2009 1:54:58 PM PDT by John123 (The US may be going down the drain, but everyone else will drown first...)
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To: LibWhacker
The team found a way to use a compound called aminoglycosides, which itself can cause errors when RNA transcribes information from DNA to make proteins.

I'm curious as to what kind of side effects result in this.
4 posted on 04/29/2009 1:55:42 PM PDT by benjibrowder (I keep praying for hope and change, but I open my eyes and Obama is still President.)
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To: LibWhacker
They have re-awakened the human genome's latent potential to make us all into HIV-resistant creatures.

Thanks, but no thanks. Give it to the homosexuals. What have they got to lose?

5 posted on 04/29/2009 1:56:26 PM PDT by concerned about politics ("Get thee behind me, Liberal")
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To: benjibrowder
I'm curious as to what kind of side effects result in this.

Ever heard of Big Foot?

6 posted on 04/29/2009 1:57:55 PM PDT by concerned about politics ("Get thee behind me, Liberal")
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To: benjibrowder

Side effect? My guess is it makes you straight.


7 posted on 04/29/2009 1:58:30 PM PDT by The Unknown Republican
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To: LibWhacker
At last, they knew that if they could just figure out a way to reawaken the "junk" gene that creates retrocyclin in humans, they might be able to stop HIV infections.

But if they do it wrong you'll just grow a tail instead.

8 posted on 04/29/2009 2:00:41 PM PDT by Paul Heinzman (Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality the cost becomes prohibitive. --William F. Buckley Jr)
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To: Ellendra

...and 28 Days Later...


9 posted on 04/29/2009 2:06:20 PM PDT by Sudetenland (Congress has too many politicians and Leftistlators and not enough Constitutionalists.)
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To: concerned about politics

>potential to make us all into HIV-resistant creatures.

Resistant <> Immune.


10 posted on 04/29/2009 2:11:47 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: OneWingedShark
HIV-resistant creatures.

Creatures, not humans? Is this a scientific Freudian slip?

11 posted on 04/29/2009 2:13:54 PM PDT by concerned about politics ("Get thee behind me, Liberal")
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To: benjibrowder
"I'm curious as to what kind of side effects result in this."


12 posted on 04/29/2009 2:17:00 PM PDT by MeanWestTexan (Beware Obama's Reichstag Fire.)
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To: concerned about politics

Well, I’m not saying I wouldn’t like a Pride of Squid-Lions to do my nefarious bidding...


13 posted on 04/29/2009 2:17:39 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: LibWhacker
"Come out Neville!!"
14 posted on 04/29/2009 2:18:27 PM PDT by wolf24 ("Reality is putting The Onion out of business...")
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To: LibWhacker

I have some acient human jeans hanging in my closet.


15 posted on 04/29/2009 2:24:41 PM PDT by 70th Division (I love my country but fear my government!)
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To: benjibrowder

Knuckles start to drag and back hair starts growing wild.


16 posted on 04/29/2009 2:34:55 PM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
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To: Ellendra
Not a biologist, but as I understand it your genes (DNA) is “tinkering” with itself from birth... at random...
17 posted on 04/29/2009 2:37:48 PM PDT by El Laton Caliente (NRA Life Member & www.Gunsnet.net Moderator)
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To: LibWhacker
And where are the raving “Franken Foods”lefties now?ARE THESE PEOPLE FREEKING KIDDING!There`s “serious doubt” about the safety of modifying food genomes and yet people are cool with this?And all because a bunch of queers can`t accept that its an exit,not an entrance!Or at least use decent rubbers.
18 posted on 04/29/2009 2:40:43 PM PDT by nomad
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To: Ellendra
Am I the only one who gets creeped out by the idea of some scientist tinkering with my genes?

No

19 posted on 04/29/2009 2:46:51 PM PDT by jedi150
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To: Sudetenland
Millions gone due to some horrific biochemical breakdown,or maybe just induced virulent pandemic cancer?
20 posted on 04/29/2009 2:46:59 PM PDT by nomad
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To: Coleus; AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Fred Nerks; ...
Those of you who read Greg Bear's novel Darwin's Radio know that this scenario is familiar scifi territory: In that book, humans start rapidly evolving after their junk DNA re-awakens in response to stress.
That idea also provided the basis for the worst or second-worst episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation".
21 posted on 04/29/2009 5:22:53 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________ Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1ofmanyfree; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; 31R1O; ...

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Glyphs
"Fred Sanford" ping.
"Junk DNA" are inactive parts of your genome... Old World monkeys had a built-in immunity to HIV: a protein called retrocyclin, which can prevent HIV from entering cell walls and starting an infection. So they began poring over the human genome, looking to see if humans had a latent gene that could manufacture retrocyclin too. It turned out that we did, but a "nonsense mutation" in the gene had turned it off... Nonsense mutations are caused when random DNA code shows up in the middle of a gene, preventing it from beginning the process of manufacturing proteins in the cell.
To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.
GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother, and Ernest_at_the_Beach
 

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22 posted on 04/29/2009 5:25:04 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/____________________ Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: LibWhacker

.....And they’ve discovered how to turn it back on. .......

Turning on the antiHIV gene turns off the queer gene


23 posted on 04/29/2009 5:30:11 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . Crucify ! Crucify ! Crucify him!!)
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To: Paul Heinzman
tail

Would be great if it was just a small one.

Heck, everyone could use a little tail.

24 posted on 04/29/2009 7:03:30 PM PDT by bigheadfred (Negromancer !!! RUN for your lives !!!)
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