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Hiv: Vaccine Resistance Essay

1621 words - 6 pages

Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV is a disease like no other. A virus studied for more than 30 years, yet no vaccine was developed. HIV which causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome) was believed to be present in North America, Europe, and Africa for several decades before the earliest cases appeared in 1980 (Mann, 1989). There are several theories behind the origin of HIV. The simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) found in chimpanzees, is believed to have been transmitted to humans becoming HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS, a cross species transmission. Due to the origin and nature of HIV, finding a vaccine is quite difficult.Measles, influenza A, Ebola, HIV, SARS, dengue, and many others viruses have made the jump from a different species to humans. All of which have became epidemics that killed millions. The most recent virus to make the jump is the avian flue, and in certain Asian countries, it is classified as a pandemic. The most widely accepted theory of the origin of HIV, states that humans contracted HIV from consuming chimpanzees bush meat. The most controversial theory states HIV developed from contaminated vaccines used in the immunization for polio. The polio vaccine is harvested using monkey kidneys that were contaminated by SIV. This is a plausible theory because prior to 1985 there was no test for SIV. The HIV virus became more and more complex through constant recombination, and mutations that have been favorable for it. HIV eventually developed many sub-types that are resistant to treatment.Vaccines protect individuals by priming the immune system to recognize disease-causing organisms when they are encountered and destroying them before they begin to spread. When a vaccine enters the body, it activates humoral arm of the immune system, which is responsible for the production of anti-bodies. Anti-bodies circulate through out the body seeking foreign invaders. The anti-bodies then bind to a unique part of the infectious agent called the antigen. The antigen is located on the protein surface of the viral cell. The invading cell is marked for destruction by the antibody. The biggest challenge facing researchers is developing a vaccine that is capable of detecting the constantly mutating HIV virus. A mutation that occurs in the HIV antigen will make it difficult to recognize the virus by the helper T cells, leaving the virus to spread unchecked.HIV's ability to mutate so rapidly is contributed to the method it uses to replicate it RNA genome into a double stranded DNA. During reverse transcription, the HIV RNA is constructed into a double stranded DNA, by the enzyme reverse transcriptase. The HIV virus mutates readily because the enzyme reverse transcriptase is prone to error and has no way to proof read. Reverse transcriptase is an enzyme used by all retroviruses to transcribes the genetic information from RNA into DNA. Transcriptase also integrates the viral RNA into the host genome. Because reverse transcription causes...

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