Researchers say they've used financial theory to find an exploitable weakness in the structure of the virus
HIV has proven notoriously difficult to treat since its discovery three decades ago. But now, scientists at the Ragon Institute have applied an unconventional analysis that they think might have identified the virus's "Achilles' heel."
One of the major complications doctors have encountered in trying to fight HIV has been its chameleonic behavior. When the virus replicates in an infected person's body -- and it does this hundreds of billions of times a day -- the newly spawned pathogens are often remarkably different from their progenitors. This "extreme mutability" makes it incredibly difficult for drugs to lock onto and fight the virus.
However, not all infected individuals have the same trouble fighting the disease. The Ragon Institute's Bruce Walker looked at a small group of subjects -- called "elite controllers" -- who have managed for years to keep the disease at bay without the use of medication. What he found was that the immune systems of these patients tended to focus their activities on a few vulnerable areas of the virus.
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