General, Research, Technology

Is it possible to protect against HIV at the genetic level

AIDS has long been recognized by many as a realthe problem of humanity, which must be somehow solved. People are building theories about where it came from, and why it is necessary or not to worry about it, but one thing is clear for sure. You have to fight with it and you have to know how to protect yourself. The rest, as they say, will follow. It is believed that humans have no protection against this 20th century plague, but some people do. It sounds like some kind of fantasy, but in fact it is. In this article we will talk about the mutation-related defense mechanism. These are the very good mutations that give some people an edge. But are they that good?

The plague of the 20th century is raging in the 21st century.


  • 1 What is HIV
  • 2 Can a person not get HIV
  • 3 Where do people without AIDS live?
  • 4 Effect of mutation on the immune system
  • 5 How the mutation that protects against HIV appeared
  • 6 How many people cannot get AIDS
  • 7 Residents of which countries do not have protection against HIV

What is HIV

It is believed that HIV infection that leads toprogressive immunodeficiency, appeared in the 1980s of the last century, but in fact it is not. Of course, it existed before, but at the end of the last century it was only recorded.

HIV infection is a progressive disease, which is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. As it develops in the body, the virus infects cells of the immune system that have CD4 receptors on their surface.

Scientists say HIV appeared in the wildnature and got to people from some animals. Whether it is true or not, we will not know, and we can only believe it or, conversely, not believe it. Nevertheless, the fact remains that HIV has spread around the world and there is still no effective cure for it. There are only protective measures against infection and expensive treatments, which also do not always help. Even if there is an effect from them, it is still temporary, and this is just the maintenance of life, not its salvation.

An approximate scheme of the division of the virus in the body.

Despite all the incurable disease, in the worldthere are two cases when people are completely cured of HIV. They happened just recently, and this gives hope that we are on the verge of getting an effective medicine against AIDS.

Someday a cure for this virus (or a vaccine) will be found, but now let's figure out what is there with the mutation that allows people to be resistant to HIV infection.

Can a person not get HIV

As soon as scientists have identified the first casesbecoming infected with HIV, they began to actively explore the ways of its spread and the likelihood of infection. During their research, they found out that there are people who have had sexual contact with infected, but did not become infected themselves. At first they were a little surprised, but further research provided an answer to the question of why this is happening.

The mutation can affect a specific human gene, called CCR5. Such a mutation can change the way the body encodes the protein, which is the main base of the virus.

Often it is genes that help us survive in spite of.

What is a virus and why do scientists grow it?

The virus binds to this protein, after which it begins to actively spread in the body. If he does not have the opportunity to interact with the protein, then he does not have the opportunity hit the whole bodyspreading in it. As a result, it does not penetrate cells and does not cause any significant harm to the body.

This could be used as“Vaccines” for HIV, but it's not that simple. Firstly, such tampering with the genome can lead to other larger problems, and secondly, such a change itself is not easy.

Where people who do not have AIDS live

Despite the complexity of research and development,physicians would not be physicians if they had not decided to try to find a solution to the problem. And they tried it. They started trying to develop an HIV vaccine that simply would block this protein and thus protected the person.

Chinese geneticist He Jiankui conducted an illegal experiment and modified at the genetic level several embryos in order to inoculate them with a mutated gene. Two children (twins Lulu and Nana) have already been born, and the geneticist has caused a wave of indignation in the scientific community.

First of all, scientists decided to understand where it is possiblefind carriers of such a mutation. After a long time of research and analysis, they found that most of the carriers of this mutation live in the northern part of Europe. Speaking about specific peoples, they were Estonians, Finns and Russians. In this region, there were more carriers of the mutation than in other places - their number reached a quarter of the total population. True, only a small proportion of people had a mutation in both copies of the gene. Most had the mutation in only one copy.

This ribbon is a symbol of the fight against HIV in the world.

Naturally, scientists were only interested in those whohad mutations in both copies, since if the mutation affected only one, then such people did not have stable immunity to HIV. Their disease progressed more slowly, but they were not fully protected from AIDS.

An implant for HIV therapy has been developed. He supplies a person with medicines throughout the year.

Scientists have long thought about why this happened and why such a phenomenon is observed in this part of the world, but they have not found an answer. However, they suggested that this is due to plague epidemics, which raged in Europe in differentperiods of its history. Scientists have suggested that such a mutation could become part of a defense mechanism against the plague. Later it turned out that this theory was wrong, but the coincidence cannot be accidental. Since the carriers of the mutation are not scattered around the world in random order, then there was a reason why there are most of them in Europe.

Such a diagnosis is not a sentence, but there is nothing to rejoice at. Such patients have a long way of struggle ahead.

Effect of mutation on the immune system

In the human body, everything is so connected thatone cannot say that some changes only affect the better. Everything is closely related and any change for the better in one thing can lead to a change for the worse in something else.

One of ways to treat HIV is a bone marrow transplant. In this case, there is, albeit a low, but probability of curing the patient. Although it is extremely difficult to find the right donor.

So before you understand if it's worth it at allto resort to the creation of such a mutation in a person, it is worthwhile to understand whether it will lead to a deterioration in other body functions. The paradox is that having protected a person from AIDS, which is an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, you can make his immune system vulnerable for some other diseases. As a result, we will get a vicious circle that will be very difficult to break.

When cells are damaged, it becomes difficult to return the body to a healthy life.

How the mutation that protects against HIV appeared

Naturally the researchers couldn't stoponly by analyzing current data and building hypotheses when it comes to such a serious disease. Therefore, they joined forces with other groups of scientists and tried to find sources of mutation in the past.

They examined the bone remains buried interritories of Europe, and came to the conclusion that such a mutation has been found in humans for thousands of years. In those days, the mutation was very similar to that observed in its modern carriers.

The problem of HIV treatment is that most of the infected live in poor countries, and treatment is very expensive. Hence the scale of the epidemic

Apparently, even then an event occurred,which influenced the genes of the people of that time. It could be an infection, a population change, the spread of a dominant gene, or something else, but in any case, since it has passed through the millennia, it made sense from the point of view of evolution and gave some advantage to its carriers.

The statistics on the number of cases is constantly growing.

It is known that the mutation affects not only people,who originally lived in Europe. It is also observed in those people who moved there relatively recently (1000-2000 years ago). This suggests that they, too, faced the phenomenon that formed the mutation of the gene, or simply received it as a result of connections with their new neighbors.

CRISPR Genome Editor First Used for HIV Therapy

How many people cannot get AIDS

Scientists differ in their estimate of the number of people in Europe who are resistant to HIV. Typically, the data deviates from 0.5 to 2 percent, but the most 1 percent is common... As mentioned above, these are people who have a mutation of two genes at once.

The described 1 percent of residents are almost unresponsiveto the virus, and people from this number rarely acquire immunodeficiency syndrome. The rest of the carriers of only one gene have a risk of infection about 10 percent lower than those with two mutated genes. That is, they are also quite well protected.

No matter how many doctors and scientists talk about the possibility of HIV treatment, first of all, one must understand that the best means of struggle are caution and infection prevention measures.

If the virus begins to develop in their body, thenthe disease will develop more slowly, the likelihood of death will be lower, and they will develop AIDS syndrome several years later than in people who have no protection. However, this does not mean that they are completely safe, since they can still be carriers.

It is possible and necessary to fight HIV, but it is best to protect yourself from it.

Residents of which countries do not have protection from HIV

Residents of Africa and Asia are least protected from the human immunodeficiency virus. Most of all Europeans are protected from it.

Of course, research cannot provide completepictures, since there are too many errors, and with focus groups there are often problems in terms of their homogeneity. But it is almost certainly known that the carriers of two mutated genes can be considered resistant to HIV infection.

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Such knowledge and analysis of these genes can giveimportant information for those who work in areas of high risk of infection. Of course, such knowledge does not negate precautions, but such specialists will feel much more comfortable in their workplace.