By Connie Chen, Microbiology, ’16
This article was inspired by a friend who is an International Relations and Economics major. She was interested in the science behind HIV and AIDS because she only knew about the stigma carried with being infected with HIV and that it is an incurable virus. After talking to my friend for a few hours, I realized that many people don’t know too much about HIV besides how it spreads and that there is no current cure. My friend was amazed by how complicated HIV was and hopes that future policies about HIV and AIDS will have more background information rather than going with public opinion about the virus. The overarching goal of the paper is to inform the reader about what HIV and AIDS is, what HIV does to the human body, and what treatments are currently available. I hope that you, the reader, will be able to carry out some form of conversation about HIV and AIDS after reading this article.
Continue reading What is HIV?
By David Ivanov, Biochemistry ’15
Oral vaccines are known to be a convenient and effective method for treatment or prevention of diseases caused by pathogenic microorganisms. The difficulty of developing such vaccines is due to the often inhospitable environment of the stomach and intestinal tract because of low pH, or acidity, as well as enzymes that can digest or destroy biological molecules. Using a virus-like particle to deliver the vaccine is an advantageous method for getting around these and other barriers in the host organism.
A virus-like particle, or VLP, is a biological particle that resembles a virus, but contains no genetic information and thus cannot infect host cells. VLP’s can be formed by inserting and expressing just the genes for creating the viral capsid, which is a shell made up of protein subunits that protects the infectious genetic information in wild-type, or normal, viruses. The expressed capsid proteins can then self-assemble into the VLP. The capsid also has domains, or structural areas, that are responsible for recognizing suitable host cells to infect and inserting the viral genome.
Continue reading Engineering Hepatitis Virus-like Particles for Oral Vaccine Delivery