17 August 2005

Giant Virus

HIV has 9 genes. I never knew that. The reason I know it now is because this article says so, to compare it to what they call a giant virus, which has 472 genes.

Its not some sci-fi imagining, but the stuff that makes algae go foamy at the sea's edge. Presumably more genetically complex than it's host (sounds a bit like the human race), it does all sorts of wonderful things like help cloud formation - munching away on the chalk covered marine algae Emiliana Huxleyi, it produces dimethyl sulphide.

Anyhow, brushing past amazement that a woman, presumably, had the sense to classify the scuzz on a chalky shore and name it after herself (lets face it - good for her - that's a 'man' thing, think of Braxton Hicks), the point of the article is this:

With all these genes the clever little, sorry, giant virus produces ceramides to extend the life of it's host. The algae it infects outlives uninfected stuff, kept artificially fresh and alive so that the virus can keep its home and food source for as long as possible.

What's the big hoo-ha about? Well there is a hope, that in the future, the genetic structure of this virus might be successfully manipulated to make an anti-ageing serum for humans. Oh and it might help cure cancer, but that seems to read like an afterthought. Good to know that money is being thrown at all the right research, huh.


fineartist said...

Great to age well, EVEN GREATER to be a LIVE to age well! Help me, I seem to be confused....Oh, maybe not.

ella m. said...

well you know all of the socialites would just DIE if they got a few wrinkles....and their daddies are probably funding the study.

Chris Cope said...

It is more important to be sexy than alive -- that appears to be the American mantra, at least.

Arc said...

I come from a family with a long history of cancer patients. I don't think I ever recall anyone of them wishing they looked younger as they went through chemo, lost their hair and their strength.

Warms my heart to see that researchers heads are in the right place!