By MARK SCHOOFS, WSJ.com, JUNE 20, 2011:
Scientists using a powerful mathematical tool previously applied to the stock market have identified an Achilles heel in HIV that could be a prime target for AIDS vaccines or drugs.
The research adds weight to a provocative theory—that an HIV vaccine should avoid a broadside attack and instead home in on a few targets. Indeed, there is a rare group of patients who naturally control HIV without medication, and these "elite controllers" most often assail the virus at precisely this vulnerable point.
Two of the study's lead authors aren't biologists. Arup Chakraborty is a professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at MIT, though he has worked on immunology, and Vincent Dahirel is an assistant professor of chemistry at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris. They collaborated with Bruce Walker, a longtime HIV researcher who directs the Ragon Institute. Their work was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
To find the vulnerable sectors in HIV, Drs. Chakraborty and Dahirel reached back to a statistical method called random matrix theory. Developed in the 1950s to solve problems in nuclear physics, it has also been used to ... Read more>>