3-d disease

HIV Has Never Looked So Cool

It’s a debilitating virus. The scourge of gay men (and every human being). The reason billions of dollars are spent every year to battle it. But this 3-D model of HIV — from Ivan Konstantinov the folks at Visual Science, who just won the 2010 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge’s illustration category — is just plain cool to see. The model “contains 17 different viral and cellular proteins and the membrane incorporates 160 thousand lipid molecules, of 8 different types, in the same proportions as in an actual HIV particle,” writes New Scientist. “It denotes the parts encoded by the virus’s own genome in orange, while grey shades indicate structures taken into the virus when it interacts with a human cell. To create the visualisation, the team consulted over 100 articles on HIV from leading science journals and talked to experts in the field. Then they reconstructed viral proteins from X-rays before assembling the structure of an entire HIV particle. The final appearance was achieved by experienced designers and 3D graphics specialists. Thanks to software and algorithms developed by the company, the model was completed in about three months.”