Decoding HIV Genome Breakthrough For Treatment

Jenny Decker RN's picture
HIV Image

Since the appearance of the HIV virus in the United States in the early 80’s, scientists have been baffled by how it is structured, how to identify it, and what to do about it. Years and years of research efforts have finally paid off. Scientists have now decoded the HIV genome, which is a big breakthrough for developing HIV treatment.

Decoding HIV has not been easy. Researchers have focused on being able to understand the DNA of the virus. DNA is a double-strand blue print for all living organisms. RNA is a single-strand part of the blue print, but it can tangle, weave and fold in on itself, making very intricate three-dimensional patterns. The HIV virus apparently avoids detection by folding up and making these intricate patterns. This is the very thing that has made detection by humans so difficult.


Now that the HIV virus has been decoded, scientists have a new weapon. They can go in to the RNA and change it, hoping that the HIV virus will not notice. If it does not notice, there is a possibility that a treatment can be developed to eradicate the virus. Of course, this may be some time into the future, but research does not happen overnight. Research often takes many years. Decoding the HIV genome is a huge step in the right direction.

In order to change the virus, researchers will have to go in to the structure and learn from it. Part of that is learning what is important to the virus and what determines the architecture and the functioning of the virus. Then, when this is better understood, researchers can go in and make changes, assessing whether the virus notices and changes to fight this, or if it does not notice and is stopped in its tracks. Decoding the HIV virus makes it possible to cause mutations and stop the virus or to develop new drugs.

While decoding the HIV genome, scientists were able to obtain an aerial view of the virus. This provides a better view of the intricate, three dimensional patterns that the RNA has folded itself into. This new breakthrough may mean a new chapter in the fight against a worldwide deadly disease. Decoding the HIV genome gives researchers a new path to follow in which to develop strategies to develop ways to fight AIDS. New drugs, genetic manipulation, or a possible vaccination against HIV may now be possible in the near future.

Reference: HIV Genome Research Abstract