I think this is nerdy-cool. Scientists have taken a video of HIV transmitting itself from one T-cell to another at the rate of 0.2 microns a second -- if you do the math, that's equivalent of a 6-foot man running at 33 mph!!! The picture above shows the HIV -- lit up in green -- moving from one cell to the next.
"Our findings may explain why attempts to develop an HIV vaccine have so far been unsuccessful," said Thomas Huser, one of the study's authors and chief scientist at the UC Davis Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology (CBST), where the video images were produced using advanced, live-cell video imaging microscopy.I want to see this video! It looks like WhyFiles.org may have it, but I don't want to download QuickTime.
While previous efforts to create an HIV vaccine have focused on priming the immune system to recognize and attack surface proteins of free-circulating virus, the current results indicate that HIV avoids recognition by being directly transferred between cells.
"We should be developing vaccines that help the immune system recognize proteins involved in virological synapse formation and antiviral drugs that target the factors required for synapse formation," explained Huser, who is also an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Internal Medicine.
For decades, scientists believed that HIV mainly spreads in the body through free-circulating particles that attach to a cell, take over its replication machinery and make multiple copies of themselves. Once in the bloodstream, the new particles attach to target cells and continue the process.
In 2004, scientists discovered that cell-to-cell transfer of HIV also occurred via virological synapses. This was considered to be an effective method of transferring the infection, but the reasons were unclear. The current study, however, reveals that the synapse is providing the essential structure by which viral proteins are gathered and relocated to uninfected cells.
"Direct T-cell-to-T-cell transfer through a virological synapse is a highly efficient avenue of HIV infection, and it could be the predominant mode of dissemination," said study senior author Benjamin Chen, assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
Thanks to @Dr_Jared and his blog for the video!!!
So neat!!!!! (The green bud is HIV itself -- kinda creepy, ain't it?)