View Full Version : Virus created to fight HIV

May 13, 2004, 06:49 PM
BERKELEY, California -- It took Adam Arkin and David Schaffer just $200,000 and a grad student to develop a potential treatment for AIDS. And that scares them.

That's because the therapy itself is a virus. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory assistant professors created a virus altered to latch onto HIV and mute its ability to become AIDS. They've tested the theory in a computer model and in cells in a dish. The results have been promising, and if they continue in that vein, the researchers could begin animal testing by the end of this year.

Arkin said this week at the International Biotech Summit at the University of California at Berkeley that it was almost too easy for him and his colleagues (Schaffer and then-grad student Leor Weinberger) to build the anti-HIV virus.

"If I can do it, anyone can do it," Arkin said. "That's going to be a problem."

Well, maybe not anyone. After all, Arkin and Schaffer are not your run-of-the-mill lab jockeys.

Still, bad guys can be brilliant, too, which is even more reason for the good guys to understand new biotechnologies as thoroughly as possible.

"The genie is out of the bottle, so we might as well study these things in earnest," Arkin said in an interview.


May 13, 2004, 08:30 PM
This sounds like a real break through. I just pray that it will be successful when they put in clinical trials. Real human trial will be the only way to know for sure. Calling it "synthetic biology" sounds like a good move.

This is the reason to wait for clinical trials and caution: Arkin and Schaffer's computer model will also help them foresee potential problems, which are plentiful when trying to treat a deadly disease with a manufactured virus. This is a virus that can be spread by having sex, just like HIV (although if it works, that could be a good thing). It's also possible that HIV and the therapeutic virus could mutate around each other and recombine to make an altogether new virus.

"I can't say now it won't make it worse," Arkin said.

May 13, 2004, 08:31 PM
From the sound of it there is extra space inside of the viral shell which could carry extra material. There would also be issues it combining with other virii.

Who knows what will become. It might be a miracle cure. It might be really bad.

Also does it only prevent death of the immune system? If so what about the death of brain cells and other effects?

May 14, 2004, 05:47 AM
So does this mean G5 PowerBooks next tuesday?? :p Sorry, that's really great news. Sounds like a clever and simple idea. Like most good ideas are. I hope it will work.

May 14, 2004, 09:49 AM
So does this mean G5 PowerBooks next tuesday?? :p .

No, It's only for Windowze Users... :mad: :eek:

May 14, 2004, 10:12 AM
Can it help me download porn faster? That's really the issue here.

May 14, 2004, 10:30 AM
bad bad bad idea, once it gets into the wrong hands (terrorists), or does through a mutation, we're screwed. Who knows what new and even more deadly virus may emerge.

psst. ... sick populations = no more G5's will be released.

May 14, 2004, 02:38 PM
This is really interesting stuff. I really do hope that it works in clinical trials aswell. I like the idea that it remains with the host while they have HIV. The only problem is mutation especially if it's gonna result in an even more resilient form of HIV.

Chip NoVaMac
May 14, 2004, 04:28 PM
I agree that this sounds promising, yet have the same reservations about mutations. The terrorist thing is less of a worry to me, since terrorists will make do with what they have.

May 14, 2004, 04:54 PM
i really don't know if i like this or not. i mean, sure it'll prevent HIV from becoming AIDS, but there's bound to be a real, honest-to-god cure out there, and if we release a "cure" disease in the meantime, we'll have two viruses to eradicate, or shall we just allow the "cure" to rage on, everyone's infected? science thinks this has happened before, but not with man-made viruses. And even if there is no cure, then humans will have two viruses that combat each other, i wonder if that will cause more health problems? This is just logistics, mutations have been mentioned but i won't go into that.

i really don't think this is a good idea in the long-term.


May 14, 2004, 06:05 PM
Sounds neat.

3 people and $200K... smells like the beginning of a multi-billion dollar Silicon Valley Biotech firm. Someone tell these folks to run, not walk to the nearest US Patent Office!

One of them is not the son of a US Army biogeneticist that was fired by an Army general who has a daughter that the son is working with that looks a lot like tasty Jennifer Connelly. :D

Chip NoVaMac
May 14, 2004, 08:46 PM
i really don't think this is a good idea in the long-term.


Sort of how vanity drugs (FenPhen ,sp>, and other "quick fix beauty" drugs, or surgeries) have shown that there are side effects that we don't know about till many years later.

May 15, 2004, 12:32 AM
Sounds neat.
Someone tell these folks to run, not walk to the nearest US Patent Office!

It is likely already patented. Once you publicly release something like this you lose all patent privileges.