Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.


AIDS-Fighting "HIV Controllers" Give Up Some of Their Genetic Secrets

80beatsBy Andrew MosemanNovember 5, 2010 9:27 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news



From Ed Yong

The vast majority of people who are infected with HIV go on to develop AIDS. Their bodies become riddled with the virus, their immune systems falter, and they are besieged by life-threatening infections. But not everyone shares the same fate. Around 1 in every 300 people infected with HIV carry genetic trump cards that allow them to resist and control the virus. These “HIV controllers” can live with the virus for years. They never develop AIDS and they live long, healthy lives, even if they never take any medication. Their genetic secrets are slowly being revealed.

Researchers studying thousands of people with HIV, some with the controllers and some without, found something surprising:

Amazingly, every single one of these variants sits within a specific part of our sixth chromosome, among a set of genes called class I HLAgenes. The proteins they produce form part of the internal security checks that defend us from infections. They grab small pieces of other proteins from inside our cells and display them on the outside, waving them under the noses of passing T-cells. If the T-cells recognise these pieces as parts of bacteria, viruses or other foreign invaders, they tell the infected cell to self-destruct and set the immune system on red alert.

Check out the rest of this post

at DISCOVER blog Not Exactly Rocket Science. Related Content: 80beats: HIV’s Primate Precursor Is Very Old. Why Did It Jump To Humans So Recently?

80beats: Good News: Anti-Microbial Gel Cuts HIV Infection Rates for Women

80beats: New HIV Hope? Researchers Find Natural Antibodies That Thwart the Virus

80beats: Gene Therapy Hope for HIV: Engineered Stem Cells Hold Promise

80beats: Did the Eradication of Smallpox Accidentally Help the Spread of HIV?

Image: Wikimedia / HIV Budding

3 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In