After over three decades of research, we still don’t understand nearly enough about the AIDS causing pathogen, HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. But a recent study has innovated the research process and presented a new understanding of the link between HIV and its spread in the human body.
ANI reported that a recent study in the journal Nature Communications disrupted the typical way HIV research is conducted, that is, in a test tube or a two-dimensional environment.
Instead, by using innovative cell culture systems, quantitative image analysis, and computer simulation, the study aimed to mimic the environment inside the three-dimensional, complex human body which is the site where HIV spreads.
"“Studies on HIV replication in the lab are mostly conducted in simple cell culture experiments in plastic dishes that do not reflect the complex architecture and heterogeneity of tissue.”" - Dr Oliver Fackler at Heidelberg University Hospital
The results of this approach revealed that the tissue structure powers the virus to spread through direct cell-to-cell contact.
Inter-Disciplinary Approach Used to Further Understand HIV
To conduct this experiment, colleagues from different fields like image processing, theoretical biophysics and mathematical modelling collaborated with scientists.
" “This yielded a very complex set of data that was impossible to interpret without the help from scientists of other disciplines.”" - Dr Andrea Imle, who worked on the project during her Ph.D.
The findings also revealed that the 3D environment of the cell actually suppresses infections with a cell-free virus, and yet also enabled direct cell to cell virus transmissions.
The researchers believe that these new findings will pave the way for better HIV treatment.
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