Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Take a second look, before you endorse the KONY 2012 campaign

This may surprise you, but your enemy's enemy is not necessarily your friend. The terrible state of affairs in Uganda will offer you many permutations on that theme. But did you really think you were going to make a difference by watching a slick video and clicking on an internet link?

I'm not an expert, but here are a few angles you may want to examine before nailing your colors to the mast of the Invisible Children organization.

1. “Invisible Children is misusing funds, misrepresenting facts and possibly making the situation in Uganda worse”

2. Looks like the founder of the Kony 2012 campaign has an evangelical agenda: " a November 7, 2011 appearance at Liberty University, as part of Liberty's Fall Convocation speaker series, Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell hinted that Invisible Children was also an evangelizing effort, and during his talk Russell coached Liberty University students on what could be characterized as extremely low-key, or stealth, evangelism."

3. Nationally, Ugandans are fighting to eject a U.S.-backed dictator, Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni, who has been in office for more than 26 years now and imposed his regime by brutal repression.

As you know, Gen. Museveni has stolen the last three elections, including last February's presidential election.

KONY 2012, Invisible Children's Pro-AFRICOM and Museveni Propaganda 

4. “The violence in Uganda, Congo, and South Sudan has been the most devastating — anywhere in the world — since the mid-1990s. Even conservative estimates place the death toll in the millions. And the LRA is, in fact, a relatively small player in all of this — as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence. If Kony is removed, LRA fighters will join other groups or act independently. Civilians will remain exposed to atrocities committed by other armed groups, including their own national armies.”

5. More about the LRA in Sudan.

6. Ugandans criticise Kony campaign

7. Social Media Scam Alert: Top Ten Ways to Tell Kony is Phony

8. Kony 2012 Hides US Support for Repressive Ugandan Regime

“Kony 2012” Director Arrested For Public Masturbation

Jason Russell, star and co-creator of viral phenomenon Kony 2012, was arrested in San Diego for public masturbation and vandalizing cars. NBC San Diego is reporting Russell was detained last night, with police describing his behavior as “very strange.” 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Researchers Announce a Breakthrough on HIV/AIDS Treatment
A technique that alters T cells has been shown to reduce the amount of virus in infected people.

By Deborah Erickson 

For the first time, researchers have shown that a cell-based therapy for HIV/AIDS can reduce the amount of virus in infected people. The breakthrough — big news for researchers, who have struggled for decades to create vaccines and cell-based therapies for HIV — was announced on Sunday at the 51st Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Chicago. To date, the sole treatment for HIV has been multidrug regimens that prolong life but never eliminate the virus.

Sangamo BioSciences of Richmond, California, says it has found a way to protect the T cells that HIV attacks first, so they can live to fight another day. The approach entails temporarily stopping a patient’s antiretroviral therapy and removing T cells carrying the CD4 receptor. This surface protein is the doorway by which the virus gains entry into the cell. The collected T cells are exposed to zinc finger nuclease, an enzyme designed to remove the gene for a coreceptor of CD4 called CCR5. The cells are then reinfused into the patient. Once they’re back in the body, the new study shows, the cells persist and travel in the body just like normal T cells.

Sangamo’s approach is based on the observation that some people have a naturally occurring mutation in the CCR5 gene that protects them against HIV. Ordinarily, humans have two copies of every gene. It turns out that individuals with a mutation in both copies of the CCR5 gene cannot be infected by the most common HIV strains. In people with the so-called Delta-32 mutation in just one copy of the gene, infection rarely progresses to AIDS. In the U.S., about 1 percent of the population is thought to carry the helpful mutation, which some researchers believe arose as protection against the Black Death.

Previous evidence existed showing that CCR5-negative cells could help AIDS patients. In 2007, an American man with AIDS and lymphoma received, as treatment for the cancer, a bone-marrow transplant from a person with the CCR5 mutation. The marrow recipient has been free of both AIDS and cancer since then. Sangamo’s method treats a patient’s own cells, with less risk than a marrow transplant.

“The data are very encouraging,” says Edward Lanphier, Sangamo’s founding CEO. “We are seeing a statistically significant correlation between our treatment and viral load reduction. This is a big step forward toward our goal of developing a functional cure for the disease.” Lanphier envisions that someday AIDS patients will not need to be on aggressive antiretroviral therapies because their virus will be well-controlled—or even undetectable, as happened with one subject with a mutation in one CCR5 gene.

Experts unaffiliated with Sangamo and its clinical trials agree that the scientific achievement is impressive, but they question the notion that it could yield a functional cure. Gerhard Bauer, assistant professor in the Stem Cell Program at the University of California, Davis, and director of that school’s Good Manufacturing Practice laboratory at the Institute for Regenerative Cures, says, “this is a great move forward, to demonstrate reduction of viral load by pushing in modified T cells. It has never been done before by any company, and I congratulate them 100 percent.”

However, Bauer says, he is “not so sure” the company will be able to create a functional cure. T cells don’t live forever, he points out.

“This is encouraging,” says Ellen Feigal, vice president of R&D at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, “and it provides supporting evidence for a study we funded that would take the work to the next step.” This study, by researchers at City of Hope, a cancer center in Duarte, California, aims to provide patients with a permanent supply of HIV-resistant T cells. The strategy calls for modifying patients’ blood-forming stem cells, which produce all future T cells as well as the macrophages and dendritic cells that can also be HIV targets.

Sangamo is also exploring the potential of stem-cell modification with City of Hope researchers, but the company does not concede that modified stem cells will be necessary or any better than T cells. “Yes, T cells turn over,” says Geoff Nichol, who joined Sangamo as executive vice president of R&D a few months ago to commercialize the platform, “but there are some very long-lasting subsets that can live for years and years and remember the epitope they came up against. We are feeling bullish about T cells because of our data.”

Sangamo’s news is “certainly scientifically interesting,” observes Warner Greene, director of the Gladstone Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. But, he points out, no cell therapy, whether it involves T cells or stem cells, is a practical approach to treating HIV/AIDS throughout the developing world, where seven out of 10 new infections are occurring. “We really need to be looking for therapies that can benefit the millions of individuals with HIV, not just a select few who might be able to afford cellular therapies.”

Copyright TechnologyReview.Com 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kaletra Plus Selzentry Yields Faster Response And Better Immune Recovery Than Kaletra Plus Truvada (IAS 2011)
By Courtney McQueen and April Clayton 

Preliminary results from a small 48 week clinical trial indicate that previously untreated HIV-positive adults taking Kaletra plus Selzentry have better immune recovery and faster virologic response compared to participants taking the more standard regimen of Kaletra plus Truvada.

Based on their results, the researchers recommended further research into treatment regimens that do not contain nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) – such as Truvada – which currently form the backbone of antiretroviral therapy. They also noted that longer trials with more participants would be needed to confirm the long-term safety and efficacy of non-NRTI-based regimens.

The results were presented last week at the 6th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment, and Prevention (IAS 2011).

Traditional combination antiretroviral therapy regimens consist of two NRTIs plus at least one additional anti-HIV drug from a different class. However, due to side effects associated with NRTIs and the fact that some patients cannot take them due to allergies or other conditions, researchers have begun exploring alternative “NRTI-sparing” regimens (see related AIDS Beacon news).

In this study, researchers examined the efficacy of the non-NRTI-based regimen of Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir) plus Selzentry (maraviroc) versus the more traditional regimen of Kaletra plus Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir). Truvada is a combination of two NRTIs, while Kaletra is a protease inhibitor and Selzentry is a CCR5 inhibitor, which is a relatively new type of antiretroviral.

The trial included 38 HIV-positive adults who had not previously been treated for HIV. Half the participants were randomly assigned to receive Kaletra plus Selzentry, and the other half were assigned to take Kaletra plus Truvada. The researchers then assessed participants’ CD4 (white blood cell) counts and viral loads (amount of HIV in the blood) at 4, 12, 24, 36, and 48 weeks after starting treatment.

Results showed that after 48 weeks, participants in the non-NRTI Kaletra plus Selzentry group had significantly higher increases in CD4 counts than participants in the Kaletra plus Truvada group. The average increase in CD4 count for the Kaletra/Selzentry group was 226 cells per microliter, compared to 125 cells per microliter in the Kaletra/Truvada group.

Additionally, most participants in the non-NRTI group (83 percent) achieved undetectable viral loads by week 12, compared to less than half of patients in the Truvada group. By 48 weeks, 95 percent of participants in the Kaletra/Selzentry group had undetectable viral loads, compared to 83 percent of participants in the Kaletra/Truvada group.

The researchers also noted that three participants taking Kaletra plus Truvada had to interrupt treatment due to diarrhea. Overall one person in the Kaletra/Truvada group discontinued treatment, compared to none in the Kaletra/Selzentry group.

For more information, please see the study abstract and presentation (pdf) on the IAS 2011 conference website.

Copyright © 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

NanoViricides announces anti-HIV therapy could lead to functional cure
by Deborah Sterescu 

NanoViricides (OTCBB:NNVC) reported Monday that its lead anti-HIV candidate achieved an efficacy level equivalent to a highly active anti-retroviral triple (HAART) drug cocktail in a recent animal study.

Treatment with the drug reduced HIV levels and protected human immune T-cells to the same extent as treatment with the cocktail did in a study of mice, said the company. The three drug-combination used for comparison is one of the current therapies recommended for patients with HIV.

NanoViricides, which uses special purpose nanomaterials to design viral therapies, also said that no evidence of drug toxicity was observed during the study, and that the investigational drug will now undergo further optimization.
The latest study verifies the company’s previous results, which found that nanoviricides had a significant therapeutic effect, equal or superior to the same three-drug cocktail in a mouse study.

The company’s nanoviricide therapy works to mimick cellular structures to which the virus binds, specifically attacking and dismantling them.  By working differently than many combination therapies, the drug developer believes that the nanoviral treatment, or HIVCide, could compliment current standard-of-care, possibly achieving a “functional cure” of HIV/AIDS, NanoViricides said.

Although a functional cure is not a complete cure, it would allow an infected person to continue normal life even after discontinuation of therapy, maintaining undetectable viral load until a recurrence.

“Creating an adjunct drug that acts by a novel mechanism complementing the current HAART therapy is becoming extremely important,” said CEO, Eugene Seymour.

“The HIV virus mutates constantly resulting in failure of HAART therapy regimens. In some countries, it has now mutated to such an extent that in up to 40% of patients the standard HAART therapy has become ineffective.”

The company’s nanoviricide class of drugs are being developed against a number of viral diseases, including H1N1 swine flu, H5N1 bird flu, seasonal Influenza, oral and genital Herpes, viral Hepatitis C, and Ebola virus, among others.

A recent study of anti-flu treatment FluCide showed that the drug was better than oseltamivir, or Tamiflu, with a 1,000-fold greater viral load reduction than the standard flu therapy, after optimization.

“The results of the current study have provided important insight to guide the next cycle of chemical optimization. We clearly know now that we are on the right path,” said president Anil R. Diwan.

Copyright © 2011 Proactive Investors USA & Canada

Friday, July 15, 2011

Got HPV and HIV? Don't panic

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is currently the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI), perhaps because it is so easy to spread through skin-on-skin contact. For this reason, condoms can decrease, but not preclude, transmission of the virus during sex.

Various strains of the virus may cause genital warts on your penis or your ass. Generally painless, they can be occasionally itchy. They are almost always benign, the obvious exception being the strains that cause anal cancer.

The chemical you used to burn off the warts was probably liquid nitrogen. Even with this treatment, warts can reoccur. Depending on your age, you may choose to be vaccinated with Gardasil, but it works best if received prior to exposure to the virus.

Health Canada has approved the vaccine for young men from nine to 26, but oddly, they must pay for this particular preventive medicine, at a cost of up to $300, and it is not always easy to find a dispensing source. Hopefully, one day both boys and girls will be vaccinated for HPV just as they receive polio and measles vaccines, but we are far from that state now.

Though it is true that your risk of developing anal cancer increases if you have HPV and HIV, that risk is actually fairly minimal. That said, you are wise to remain vigilant regarding your anal health. If you notice changes to your ass in the form of bleeding, significant growth of the warts or other lesions in the first inch inside your anal opening — or anything else unusual — get to your doctor. If you can access the Lower Mainland, you can go to the infectious disease clinic at St Paul’s Hospital to get an anal PAP test.

Is there a need to alter your sexual behaviour now that your serological status has changed? Not necessarily. Because condoms cover only your penis, and because HPV rarely limits itself only to this area, they are not entirely protective. However, you want to minimize transmission as much as possible, so if you are with new or multiple partners, glove up.

Because of the incomplete protection condoms afford, you will need to advise new sexual partners of your potentially infectious status even if you engage in protected sex. You may wish to forgo anal sex with casual partners when your CD4 count is less than optimal. You will learn to read your body’s cues and can act accordingly.

If you are in a sexually exclusive relationship, you probably share strains of viruses, so you can relax regarding barrier protection, but, of course, use your best judgment and continue to talk openly about your health. The strains of HPV you have may not be oncogenic (cancer-producing), and you want to keep it that way. Your goal is to prevent transmission and reception of new strains while still enjoying great sex.

If your health is good, your CD4 count is robust and you are doing well on HAART (highly active anti-retroviral therapy), your chances of developing anal cancer are reduced. As horrible as it sounds, anal cancer is less deadly and metastatic (easily spreading) than its sister cervical cancer, which women have learned to manage through routine PAP tests for years now. You guys must now be vocal and persistent in demanding the same good medical care.

HPV is primarily a cosmetic problem, providing you monitor your body for changes. Since it has become ubiquitous in the community, you needn’t fear rejection or embarrassment because of it.

So all in all, though having HIV and HPV is not good news, it is not terrible news, either. Several decades ago, these diagnoses would have threatened far more serious consequences. Now they signal a need for continued vigilance and monitoring of your health status — not such a bad thing, really.

The point is that this is not a death sentence. It is not even news about which you need to panic. You have illnesses that compromise your immune system, and luckily, medicine is catching up with necessary treatments, although, alas, cures are still unavailable.

Political pressure is needed to make Gardasil available for young men. Those in non-urban areas often still lack access to anal PAP tests and dignified treatment. We do not yet live in the world we hope for or deserve.

Still, you can have a long and satisfying life. I encourage you to do so. This is a situation where you can happily celebrate your half-full glass.

Got a question for Dr Ren?

Copyright 2011 Xtra! Canada's Gay & Lesbian News
Ultrasound May Determine Heart Attack Risk in HIV Patients

Risk 10 times higher in HIV patients with abnormal results compared with general population: study

People with HIV are at increased risk for blood vessel blockages, and new research shows heart ultrasounds can help determine if these patients are more likely to suffer a serious or fatal heart attack.

A report from the American Heart Association revealed that the risk for heart attack among people with HIV who have abnormal heart ultrasound tests or "stress echoes" is 10 times greater than in the general population and more than three times higher than in people without HIV who have abnormal heart ultrasounds.

"We looked at whether stress echo can help predict risk in a high-risk group — HIV patients with known or suspected heart disease — and determine whether they have a high or low risk of heart attack and death in the future," the study's senior author, Dr. Farooq A. Chaudhry, associate professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and associate chief of cardiology and director of echocardiography at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, said in an American Heart Association news release.

In conducting stress echoes on 311 HIV patients averaging 52 years of age with known or suspected heart disease, researchers found that 26 percent had abnormal ultrasounds. Within an average of about three years, there were 14 cardiac deaths and 17 nonfatal heart attacks.

The study authors concluded that the HIV patients who had normal stress echo tests had on average a less than 1 percent per year risk for serious or fatal heart attack -- the same risk as in the general healthy population. In sharp contrast, the risk of heart attack among the HIV patients with abnormal stress echo test results was almost 12 percent per year.

The study, published in the current issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging, found that 100 percent of HIV patients with normal heart ultrasounds survived in the year following the test and 98 percent were alive at four years. Those survival rates dropped to 92 percent at one year and 62 percent at four years for people with HIV that had abnormal stress echoes, the report indicated.

"Although we did not study which treatments are most effective for these patients, HIV patients who have abnormal stress echocardiography should probably be monitored and treated more aggressively to prevent heart attack and death," said Chaudhry. "Conversely, patients with a normal stress echo might not need such aggressive interventions."

The American Heart Association provides more information on HIV and the heart.

Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved
Pills found to be highly effective in preventing HIV transmission
By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times

Experts hail a pair of trials involving heterosexual couples in Africa as a breakthrough in AIDS prevention. The studies show that taking a pill containing one or two drugs each day can decrease transmission of HIV by as much as three-quarters.

Taking a daily pill containing either one or two anti-HIV drugs can reduce transmission of the virus by as much as three-quarters among heterosexual couples, two studies in Africa have shown — a breakthrough finding that promises to intensify a new focus on AIDS prevention.

The results were so compelling that the larger study was halted early and the drugs given to all the participants, researchers said Wednesday.

In the absence of a vaccine to protect against the virus, this new approach, termed pre-exposure prophylaxis, may be the best hope for slowing or even halting the spread of the deadly plague throughout the developing world. U.S. health officials are beginning to prepare guidelines for how the drugs could be used in this country to prevent new infections.

The findings "are two more nails in the coffin of HIV," said Mitchell Warren, executive director of the New York-based AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition. "We are seeing similar results in different populations, and that gives us more certainty that these results are real."

A study of gay men reported in November showed that one of the drugs in the new trial could reduce the spread of HIV by as much as 70% when taken regularly by uninfected individuals. But a study released this year found that the drugs did not show a similar benefit among uninfected heterosexual women.

The strength of the new findings suggests that the study involving women may have been flawed.

"Our results provide clear evidence that this works in heterosexuals," said Dr. Jared Baeten of the University of Washington, co-chair of the new study.

The last year has brought several breakthroughs in AIDS prevention research, said Kevin Frost, chief executive of amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. In addition to this latest finding and the study involving gay men, a study released last July found that microbicides could sharply reduce HIV transmission in women and a study in HIV-positive people showed that treating the infected person intensively could reduce transmission by as much as 96%.

Given those and other developments, "we find ourselves in a place where we have an extraordinary opportunity to radically alter the trajectory of the epidemic," Frost said. "The science is in place. We could do it with the tools we have available. It's no longer a question of, can we do this? The question is, will we do it?"

The new results are scheduled to be presented next week at the International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Rome, but were released early.

One trial enrolled 4,758 couples in Kenya and Uganda in which one partner was HIV-positive and the other was not. A third of the uninfected participants received a daily pill containing tenofovir, a third received a daily pill containing tenofovir in combination with emtricitabine, and a third received a placebo.

Tenofovir is marketed as Viread and the two-drug combination as Truvada by Gilead Sciences Inc. of Foster City, Calif. They are available generically in many countries for as little as 25 cents per pill, according to the World Health Organization

All couples also received condoms and counseling about how to prevent infection.

By the end of May, researchers had identified 18 new infections among the group receiving Viread, 13 among those receiving Truvada and 47 among those receiving the placebo. That corresponds to a 62% reduction in transmission among those receiving Viread and a 73% reduction among those receiving Truvada.

The second trial, sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studied 1,200 healthy, sexually active males and females in Botswana. About half received Truvada and half a placebo. Among the 601 participants who took Truvada, there were nine new infections, compared with 24 among the 599 who received placebo. That amounts to a 62.6% reduction in new infections.

Among those participants who took the drugs regularly, researchers observed an even greater reduction — 77.9% — in new infections.

No significant side effects were observed in either trial. "The perception is that these drugs are really toxic," said Dr. Thomas J. Coates, an infectious diseases specialist at UCLA's Geffen School of Medicine. "They are not. The current generation is really quite safe."

Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said the agency would immediately begin working with other public health groups to establish guidelines for using the drugs prophylactically in this country. Physicians should await those guidelines before prescribing the drugs, he said, but if they believe it is imperative to do it, they should adhere to the guidelines previously announced for using them in gay men.

Dr. Robert M. Grant of UC San Francisco's Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology speculated that the drugs might work even better in the United States than they did in Africa. People in this country "are more accustomed to using pills for prevention," he noted, and thus more likely to take the drugs regularly.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stop the ADAP Crisis!
By Sonia Rastogi

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), is a safety net that provides life-saving medications to people living with HIV. Due to a funding crisis, as of September 2010, 3,441 people are on waiting lists to access medication. South Carolinians, Pat Kelly, founder of A Family Affair and founding member of the PWN, and Bonetta Graves, coordinator at Wateree AIDS Task Force, discuss the need for action in their state where the ADAP waiting list is growing.

Pat and Bonetta spoke with SC Sen. Graham about the state’s growing waiting list at the ADAP Summit in D.C. but South Carolina will not invest more money. “If one-third of the HIV-positive people in South Carolina come out to rally … then the state would not be able to cut ADAP funding,” but right now legislators do not see the need, Pat said.

It is vital to think about how the ADAP crisis affects the lives of HIV-positive people’s family members and children. Bonetta emphasized that for women, “there are a lot of things [they] are going to be cut off from,” without HIV treatment, including the ability to work and take care of their family.

TAKE ACTION! Step one: EDUCATION. Find out how you or your community is affected by the ADAP crisis: does ADAP provide your life-saving medication? “Somebody is going to have to pull their heads up out of the sand… to get started,” says Bonetta. Step two: EMPOWERMENT. “We need to start looking at medication from a human rights standpoint.” Pat says “We have a right to medication. … It is a right to health!” Step three: SPEAK OUT! Contact your local ASO or e-mail the PWN at

Sonia Rastogi is the PWN’s Communications Coordinator based in Oakland, CA. Pat Kelly, based in Orangeburg, South Carolina, is the founder of A Family Affair and founding member of PWN.

This article is from PWN’s Fall 2010 Newsletter.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Double Immunity

Dr. Stephen O’Brien’s work with HIV led to a discovery that could one day help scientists treat or prevent HIV infection: People from some European populations carry a genetic mutation that prevents HIV from entering their white blood cells. O’Brien hypothesizes that this mutation, dating back 700 years, may have been a selective advantage during the bubonic plague, as it is today, with the onslaught of HIV. From Evolution: “Evolutionary Arms Race.”

The genetic scripts written in DNA code constantly undergo changes, or mutations. At times, these mistakes in a gene’s message can be harmful; often, they have no significant effect. Occasionally, though, a mutation confers a survival advantage in the face of an environmental change. Most of the non-carriers of the mutation die, and those with the mutation are able to reproduce. With that powerful evolutionary selection force, the gene can become common in a population.

Recently, scientists were astonished to find that some individuals did not become infected with HIV, even after repeated exposure to the deadly virus.

For some reason, they were immune. A long and difficult scientific search, using blood samples from hundreds of HIV-resistant patients, finally teased out the genetic explanation. Resistant individuals had in their cells two copies of a mutation that disrupted the entryway through which HIV viruses entered white blood cells. People who inherited just one copy of the change could become infected, but their disease progressed more slowly.

With this being such a recent epidemic, where did peoples’ immunity come from?

Another puzzle was the way this resistance is distributed throughout the world. In some Northern European populations it is relatively common. In Southern Europeans it is more rare, and it is almost entirely absent in Africans, Asians, and Native Americans. Logically, the mutation must have occurred in the past, acting as a defense against a different, previous epidemic caused — like the AIDS epidemic — by a pathogen that also targeted white blood cells.

Reading a chronological history, biologists traced the HIV-resistance gene mutation back about 700 years. That was the time at which the Black Death — bubonic plague — swept like a deadly scythe through Europe, killing one-third of the population. Then, as now, there were individuals who survived the lethal organism, perhaps because it could not enter their white blood cells. The areas that were hardest hit by the Black Plague match those where the gene for HIV resistance is the most common today.

At present, scientists are trying to infect such resistant cells with bubonic plague bacteria to test the hypothesis that the mutation in the CCR-5 receptor gene could have thwarted the plague in the Middle Ages, as it does HIV today. If it turns out that this mutation does protect against the plague, this coincidence will be yet another illustration of what scientists are finding over and over in the human genome: Nature’s past successes often remain part of our genetic toolbox.

Copyright © 2001 WGBH Educational Foundation and Clear Blue Sky Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.

Evolutionary Arms Race [VHS]