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Highlights of the Biophysical Society 56th Annual Meeting
Date:2/6/2012

reatly from generation to generation) and that mutate in tandem. By staging a multipronged attack against these groups, the researchers reasoned, they might be able to trap the virus between two bad choices: be destroyed by the immune system, or mutate and destroy itself. With a mathematical tool called random matrix theory, they looked for collectively co-evolving groups of amino acids with a high number of negative correlations (meaning multiple mutations would destroy the virus) and a low number of positive correlations (meaning the virus could survive multiple mutations). They found this combination in a region, which they call Gag sector 3, that maintains the protein shell of the virus. The researchers are currently working to extend their methods to HIV proteins beyond Gag. They are also developing elements of the active components of a vaccine that would prime the immune system to selectively target Gag sector 3 proteins, and they expect to begin testing in animal models soon.

Presentation 114-Plat, "Analysis of collective coevolution in HIV proteins suggests strategies for rational vaccine design," is at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26.

Hibernating Woodchucks Offer New Insight into Protection from Cardiac Arrhythmias: A new study of hibernating woodchucks may provide insight into therapies for cardiac arrhythmias abnormal heart rhythms such as ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation that can lead to sudden cardiac death. Bears and bats can be roused from their slumber by external stimuli. But woodchucks (Marmota monax), also known as groundhogs, are "true hibernators," which means they can enter a profoundly altered physiological state: their body temperature drops to near-ambient levels (often as low as freezing) and heart and respiration rates slow dramatically. Despite or perhaps because of these changes, hibernating animals have been found to be more resistant to cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. Researchers at
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Contact: Ellen Weiss
eweiss@biophysics.org
240-290-5606
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

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