View Full Version : Can an individual be immune to AIDS?

07-04-04, 11:33 AM
Some people survived the Bubonic Plague because we now know that they were immune to it, does that mean certain people can also be immune to AIDS?

07-05-04, 09:57 AM
"The PBS program called "Secrets of Death, Mystery of the Black Plague" discussed the latest research on the bubonic plague and its relationship with the AIDS epidemic. The bubonic plague struck Europe beginning in the year 1347 and when it finally came to an end, one third of the Europeans were dead. The bubonic plague is caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis. It attacks the body by invading the white blood cells and using them as a host to breed in. This is very unusual because the white blood cells are the cells that fight off bacterial and viral infections.

The mortality rate for the bubonic plague was very high. It was almost an instant death sentence. But some individuals showed full or partial immunity to the disease. Research by Dr. Stephen O’Brien (National Institute of Health) showed a correlation between this immunity and a mutated CCR5 gene, delta 32. This mutation prevented the plague from entering the individual’s white blood cells.

AIDS has some similarities to the Black Plague, more than just the lethality rate. AIDS tricks the immune system using the same pathways as the plague bacterium, targeting and taking over the white blood cells. Like the bubonic plague, some individuals possess full or partial immunity to the AIDS virus. This small group of HIV long-term non-progressors represents approximately 5% of the population. Dr. Bill Paxton (Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center) showed the blocking mechanism that prevents the AIDS virus from binding to the white blood cells was – you guessed it – delta 32.

Now comes the big question.

Could an immunization inoculation against the black plague also provide an immunization to the AIDS virus? Wasn’t Cow Pox used to provide immunization against Small Pox? Plague vaccines have been used since the late 19th century. In the 1970’s, I joined the U.S. Air Force. At Basic Training, I was given an inoculation for the bubonic plague. A small portion of the U.S. population received this vaccination. What percentage of the individuals that have been exposed to HIV and who still remain negative to symptoms were immunized against the bubonic plague?"

07-08-04, 07:06 AM
But the AIDS virus is totally different (from what I have heard), in the fact that it mutates at an insane rate. Therefore, it is difficult to for the body to produce an antibody to fight it (how do you develop a defense against an enemy who keeps changing?)

James R
07-08-04, 11:31 AM
HIV is a virus. Bubonic plague is a bacterium. Nobody has yet invented a vaccine against a virus, I don't think.

07-08-04, 02:23 PM
Yes, there are people that are immune to HIV, just as the quoted material indicates. This is not an antibody immunity, but a lack of a certain protein on cell walls that are needed by HIV to work properly.

James, to the contrarary, most vaccines are to prevent viral infections. Heard of polio?

Idle Mind
07-08-04, 04:21 PM
When HIV invades your T-cells, it binds to the surface protein CD4 and the surface protein CCR5, which is a co-receptor. There is a portion of people (mostly European-Caucasian) that lack the CCR5 surface protein and are therefore less likely to be infected. However, since it is a genetic mutation that causes the lack of surface protein, it is not a change that can be caused by vaccination.

Smallpox was also treated by vaccine. What they used was the relatively harmless cowpox virus in the vaccine, after noticing that milkmaids who had contracted the cowpox virus were immune to smallpox. Cowpox causes a minor rash, as opposed to the much less favourable effects of smallpox, which may include death.

James R
07-08-04, 10:41 PM
I stand corrected.

Why is the common cold so hard to cure then?

07-09-04, 08:11 AM
actually the CCR5 is required for HIV infection, without it the virus cannot undergo endocytosis, and thus infection should not happen.

07-09-04, 10:27 AM
I know I'm jumping in here, but why can't we synthesise specific antibodies to target the HIV virus? Then they could be administered rather than made by the victims body. Perhaps in conjunction with artificial CCR5 protein based substanced that 'draw' the HIV's attack?

07-09-04, 08:27 PM
common cold so hard to cure then?

Isn't it because the cold constantly mutates? It's never the same twice.

Idle Mind
07-09-04, 08:28 PM
I'm aware of that WCF, but I seem to remember a paper that said another surface protein can act as a co-receptor as well. I'll try to find it on PubMed, but no promises.

The common cold and flu viruses are so hard to cure for a few reasons. Both of them mutate and change very quickly, and neither are really high priority for treatment due to their non-lethal symptoms.

I'm sure they've tried synthesizing antibodies for HIV, but since it's immune cells that the virus attacks, they have been unsuccessful. I'm not really sure what they've tried specifically, but it's obviously a lot more complicated else the problem would be solved.

07-10-04, 07:00 AM
Yes is am to, the virus needs one receptor to latch on to and another type to induce membrane merge with the cell. It is possibe for the virus to mutate to use a diffrent receptor then CCR5.