New Imagery of HIV: Electron Microscope Allows Up Close View of HIV Function

Research on how HIV works, infects cells, and responds to various forms of treatment, has now been ongoing for about three decades. Important information has been collected and better understood over the years, which has led to a series of advancements against the disease. The benefits of this research can be seen by the number of patients who are now able to not only enjoy a fairly normal lifestyle, but who also reach an almost average life expectancy. These are certainly great statistics that reflect the strides made against the disease. However, new imagery of HIV in action could revolutionize not only how research is done, but also allow insight into the best ways of how to continue fighting the epidemic.

A team of medical researchers recently used electron microscopy to view a 3D image of HIV in the digestive tract. This exciting step allowed the researchers to study the infection up close and live. Because of this ability to actually watch the virus in real-time, we now have greater insight into how HIV works and, thus, how it may be stopped.

Examining the infected tissue in this way, which gave scientists the opportunity to track both how human cells respond to the virus, and monitor how HIV itself functions, has given scientists a new understanding of the disease. The team could view concentrated areas in the gut where HIV pooled, leading to a greater appreciation of how the virus spreads and invades healthy tissue.

Another interesting observation involves our immune system. HIV appears to hide in the deep sections of the digestive tract, an area known to be associated with immune activity. Researchers believe an antibody attack using drugs could prove effective against wiping out these clusters of HIV. If so, this could have a massive impact on slowing further infection.

Seeing HIV live in infected tissue gives hope that more discoveries await on how this vicious virus functions. As with the new imagery of HIV from electron microscope imagery, new understanding of how the disease functions will almost certainly lead to even more effective ways of dealing with it. Researchers are hoping to continue to use electron microscopy to view other particulars of the infection and to monitor how it functions in those areas, as well. Thanks to the new imagery of HIV, and tracking how the HIV infection gains a foothold and grows, means that we are one step closer to closing the chapter on HIV.