Monday, March 7, 2011

Biological Vignettes PT2

AIDS has got to be one of the most feared, and most concerning health topics of the last 30 years. The virus’ ability to take over a person’s immune-response system is astonishing, and leaves a patient without any natural ability to fight the infection. It has been found however that a allele mutation on CCR5 if inherited as a homozygous trait a person is resistant to HIV-1 infections.

AIDS starts as an HIV infection, a virus that is thought to have been acquired from monkeys in the late 19th to early 20th century. HIV or  Human immunodeficiency virus is a type of retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).  In a nut shell, the virus enters the blood stream, is taken into white blood cells to be killed, hijacks the cell, then the entire immune system, a person’s body is then unable to fight even the most common of flu germs.

The CCR5 or Delta35 mutation is through to have occurred in correlation to the Black Death in Northern Europe. Individuals tested in African and Asian populations showed no Delta35 mutations but 5-14% of Northern Europeans tested did. This mutation also seems to show protection against West Nile Virus as well as mediating response to Smallpox.  It seems likely that the mutation plays a role in infection response however the exact function is unclear.

While to complete understanding of this human gene mutation in unclear, the responses to it seem very clear. An AIDS patient in 2007 was diagnosed with Leukemia, a bone marrow transplant from a Delta32, within 600 days of transplant there were no traceable sings of the HIV virus in the person blood stream. Today the patient is still HIV free.

Careful testing is being done on Delta32 and AIDS, scientists working on these experiments are hoping they can find a use of the mutation and understand how quickly if at all the virus can evolve past the Delta32 block.

* please forgive grammer mistakes, i had to write these for a class and the turned in version had to be hand written, the vingnettes are just hasty drafts.

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