Using a supercomputer to crunch massive amounts of data, researchers say they have decoded the structure that contains and protects HIV’s genetic material. Their results potentially open a new route of attack against the structure, called the capsid, which is essential to the virus’s survival.
“The capsid is critically important for HIV replication, so knowing its structure in detail could lead us to new drugs that can treat or prevent the infection,” said senior author Peijun Zhang, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “This approach has the potential to be a powerful alternative to our current HIV therapies, which work by targeting certain enzymes, but drug resistance is an enormous challenge due to the virus’ high mutation rate.”
Their task was no easy one. HIV’s gene-containing protein shell is comprised of nonuniform combinations of five- and six-subunit protein structures that link together to form an asymmetric shape. To get an accurate model of the capsid, they would need to piece together each of the 3 million to 4 million atoms that comprise it.
A new optical diagnostic tool being developed at Columbia University may help healthcare providers monitor one of the most serious complications of diabetes. The noninvasive technique —called dynamic diffuse optical tomography (DDOT) imaging—fires near-infrared light at parts of the body. That which is reflected back at the machine lets it map the concentration of hemoglobin in tissue over time.
This helps providers diagnose and monitor peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque accumulation that restricts blood flow to extremities and increases a person’s risk for heart attack and stroke.
It’s hard to imagine something so simple could save a child’s life. But that’s exactly what this small device built on 3-D printer did. University of Michigan doctors designed and implanted the tracheal splint inside Kaiba Gionfriddo, now 20 months old.
The tiny collar was made to treat Kaiba’s tracheobronchomalacia, a condition in which the airways collapse when breathing or coughing. It was created directly from a CT scan of the collapsed area using a laser-based 3-D printer. The printer constructed the splint using polycaprolactone, a biodegradable polyester that is slowly absorbed by the body over a few years. It was sewn around the airway to keep it open and give support so more tissue could grow.
The doctors described their groundbreaking treatment in New England Journal of Medicine letter published on May 23.