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Researchers pinpoint human proteins HIV needs to survive

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  1. David Rasnick 13 Jan 2008, 5:04pm

    I was surprised to learn the Harvard study led by Professor Stephen Elledge was conducted in highly aneuploid “HeLa-derived TZM-bl cells”. I’ve worked the past 11 years studying the consequences of aneuploidy and feel I should pass along some of my concerns about the study’s experiments and the authors’ conclusions.As I say, HeLa cells are massively aneuploid cervical cancer cells from the 1950s, containing typically 76–80 chromosomes and 22–25 abnormal chromosomes per cell instead of the normal complement of 46 (Macville M, Schrock E, Padilla-Nash H, Keck C, Ghadimi BM, Zimonjic D, Popescu N, Ried T: Comprehensive and definitive molecular cytogenetic characterization of HeLa cells by spectral karyotyping. Cancer Res 1999, 59:141-150).No two HeLa cells are genetically alike, in fact no two use the same network of genes, gene products, transcription factors, receptors, etc. Furthermore, the HeLa cells are highly genomically unstable; they change with each cell division.Thus, the claimed “273 proteins that the AIDS virus needs to survive in human cells” are probably an artifact of performing the experiments in the HeLa cells and actually have little or nothing to do with what goes on in people.Ultimately, the multi-million dollar question is even if one can prevent HIV from replicating in HeLa cells by removing the susceptible human proteins, will the same thing happen in normal human cells in patients? The odds are strongly against it.There is also the conceptual problem of administering drugs against human proteins since these drugs will be inherently toxic. I was in the drug design and development business for 20 years. The first principle in coming up with drugs against infectious agents was to target proteins specific to the pathogen and not human in order to minimize potential and actual toxic consequences. Researchers should ponder these questions before going down the very expensive road suggested by the Harvard group.Sincerely,David Rasnick, PhD

  2. No David the multi million dollar question is: Are you the same David Rasnick behind this?

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