HIV—the virus that causes AIDS and kills almost two million people worldwide every year—is a tricky virus, so medical professionals are learning to get even trickier. Earlier this week they got video gamers to help decode the virus’ genome—your boyfriend bitching you’re spending too much time on Portal 2? Tell him: “Fuck off! I’m curing AIDS!”
But most recently doctors developed yet another new weapon into medicine’s arsenal by figuring out a way to “disarm” HIV by removing a cholesterol membrane that allows it to bond with healthy human cells and replicate.
Even though the virus is rendered impotent, however, it still contains the genetic markers that allow your body’s natural immunity to destroy the offending virus.
“It’s like an army that has lost its weapons but still has flags, so another army can recognize it and attack it,” said Adriano Boasso of Imperial College London, who led the study.
The team now plans to investigate how to use this way of inactivating the virus and possibly develop it into a vaccine.
While stripping HIV of its cholesterol may sound like putting it on a diet so that your body can knock out the newer, slimmer, and lighter-weight virus, think of it more in terms of Harry Potter defeating Voldemort by magicking away his wand. Who knew the future of combating AIDS would amount to a big fat Expelliarmus! to HIV?