Magazine article USA TODAY

Will Molecular Tracking Reveal Virus' Secrets?

Magazine article USA TODAY

Will Molecular Tracking Reveal Virus' Secrets?

Article excerpt

More than 40,000,000 people worldwide are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. While current therapies are able to repress the virus if caught early enough, scientists still are working on a cure for the deadly disease. One researcher from the University of Missouri, Columbia, has developed a unique molecular tracking system that peers into cells, uncovering how the virus assembles its "parts" to make more virus particles and spread the infection.

"Currently, scientists have been using fluorescence microscopy as an imaging system to see the different particles," explains Marc Johnson, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology. "The problem is that the resolution is nowhere near the detail we need to view individual parts of a virus. This new technique will allow us to see much more detail than before and might reveal some of the virus' hidden secrets."

HIV contains three major genes that must combine to form the virus. When HIV infects a cell, it begins the process of replicating itself by producing these three genes. Once the genes are created, they assemble to form the virus particles and then exit the cell to spread throughout the body. …

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