I was just reading through this really encouraging sum-up of progress on preventing and treating HIV: http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110720/hl_afp/healthaids On the whole, it’s great news. I mean, as much as I dislike making circumcision mainstream, if it saves lives in a continent where AIDS is at full epidemic strength, it’s a no-brainer. I just hope we can move past it with more advanced methods at some point in the future. However, the bit that caught my attention was the ongoing (though low-level) debate as to whether a practical cure for HIV will ever be possible.
I have just read a pair of papers, both of which outline theoretical methods of creating synchronised oscillation circuits in bacterial cells. Synchronising Genetic Relaxation Oscillators by Intercell Signalling Modelling a Synthetic Multicellular Clock: Repressilators Coupled by Quorum Sensing In essence, the idea is to make bacteria who “blink” as whole colonies, by creating and destroying a fluorescent protein in an on-off manner at the same time as a group. This has been done in single cells, but as you might imagine the pattern of on-off gets lost in the crowd of a whole colony of millions, so the effect isn’t clear to the naked eye.