My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Washington University School of Medicine Researchers use Liposomes and Melittin to kill HIV

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How Washington University School of Medicine Researchers use Liposomes and Melittin to kill HIV




“We are attacking an inherent physical property of HIV. Theoretically, there isn't any way for the virus to adapt to that. The virus has to have a protective coat, a double-layered membrane that covers the virus”

Comments by Joshua L. Hood, MD, PhD, Researcher at the Washington University School of Medicine in Phys.org, Friday March 8th 2013

With recent news making the headlines about a newborn baby in Mississippi being cured of HIV (human Immuno-Deficiency Virus), the causative agent behind AIDS (Acquired Immuno-deficiency Syndrome) as reported in no less than three (3) major Media outlets as per the following articles:

1.         Researchers: Toddler cured of HIV”, published March 4, 2013 Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT) By Saundra Young, CNN
2.         In Medical First, a Baby With H.I.V. Is Deemed Cured”, Published: March 3, 2013 By ANDREW POLLACK and DONALD G. McNEIL Jr, The New York Times
3.         Baby Cured of HIV for the First Time, Researchers Say”, published Updated March 3, 2013, 4:33 p.m. ET, By RON WINSLOW, The Wall Street Journal.

I was quite surprised how quickly this topic of a cure for AIDS has come back into full view and was trending on Twitter, which was how this caught my attention initially. Apparently everyone had forgotten about STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) and they fact that they’re incurable.

So it’s with interest that I perused my Twitter Feed @lindsworthdeer and came across what appears to be the closest thing to a cure. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed nanoparticles with Bee venom poison Melittin attached on its outer surface to kill HIV as reported in “Nanoparticles loaded with bee venom kill HIV”, published March 8, 2013 by Julia Evangelou, MedicalExpress

Interestingly, the idea is breathtakingly simple. Nanoparticles, which are also called Nanodots, are clumps of atoms, usually 20 or 30 in an associative Metallic or Covalent bond Macromolecular structure. This is significant, as at the Macroscopic level, the Atoms of the Elements that make up the Molecules result in the surfaces we see and touch. The objects in our everyday world are being determined by their outer shell of Electrons and their attraction for Atomic Nuclei of their own Atoms or nearby Atoms.

Atoms in the Periodic Table are always part of a larger Macromolecular Structure, be it in the form of a Covalent Bonds e.g. non-metals or Metallic Crystalline Structures e.g. metals. Covalently bonded Molecules form crystalline structure via so called Van Der Waal and Hydrogen Bonds under certain conditions of Temperature and pressure i.e. freezing.

So to produce a chain of 20 or 30 Atoms is quite a remarkable feat in itself. This as at that degree of separation, the usual forces mentioned above that make up the stabilizing bonds are bare and as such, the Electrons are in a highly unstable Excited State, ready to react EXPLOSIVELY with virtually ANY atom with a nuclei, whether in a Covalent Bond or not.

Nanoparticles or Nanodots (sometimes called Quantum dots due to their multiple Quantum Mechanical States) also have strange interactions among themselves, exhibiting properties akin to Bio-luminescence in animals as the Electrons in these 20-30 group of Atoms swap themselves around with each other whenever exposed to Electromagnetic Radiation, be it Radio Waves or even Light in the Visible Spectrum.
Additional properties include:

1.      Lower Boiling and Melting Points
2.      Rapid Spontaneous Oxidation Reactions without the need for Heat. A possible explanation for Spontaneous Combustion phenomenon
3.      Photo Luminescent properties

For this reason, samples of nanoparticles are usually stored under Vacuum conditions and shielded from Electromagnetic radiation. It also gives clues to their potential uses:

1.      Strengthening properties for Macromolecular Structures
2.      More orderly Crystalline Structures
3.      Higher Density Data Storage possibilities
4.      Targeted Drug Delivery

What the Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine have achieved is not quite short of extraordinary, having initially started out researching a cure for Cancer based on Melittin using nanoparticles back in August of 2010 as noted in “Novel bee venom derivative forms a nanoparticle 'smart bomb' to target cancer cells”, published August 2, 2010, Phys.org.

So successful was this research group’s petitioned idea that it eventually won funding from the 2010 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant from the Bill &amp Melinda Gates Foundation for their eventual application as orally applied Vaginal Gel Contraceptive for Women as reported in “Unconventional idea for antiviral contraceptive gel wins Gates Foundation grant”, published November 9, 2010, Phys.org.

The researchers managed to attached the macromolecule Melittin, most likely under controlled conditions mentioned above, without the nanoparticles reacting and tearing the Melittin molecule apart. Most likely, they may have used a cage of Lipids arranged in a bi-layer in a structure known as a Liposome made up of stable lipids.

Lipids are basically an organic compound that’s the constituent molecules of the macromolecular structures we call fats, Oils and waxes. Their molecular structure usually consists of a Hydrophilic “head”, usually a Phosphate Group and a Hydrophobic Tail, usually composed of Glycerol Molecules. They can be one of several types, depending on the number of Glycerol molecules attached:

1.      Monoglycerides
2.      Diglycerides
3.      Triglycerides
4.      Phospholipids

Examples of lipids macromolecule structures include:

1.      Sterols
2.      Fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins A, D, E, and K)
3.      Liposomes



Lipids are mainly used in the human body for energy storage, cell membranes structures as well as constituent in Nerve Cells. Because they can be both Hydrophillic and Hydrophobic at the same time, a property that’s referred to as amphillic, they're commonly structured into Liposomes and is used as a Targeted Drug Delivery agents.

The major types of Liposomes are:

1.      MLV (Multilamellar vesicle)
2.      SUV (Small unilamellar vesicle)
3.      LUV (Large unilamellar vesicle)
4.      Cochleate vesicle




Hence they were a clear choice for the researchers to use as a drug delivery agent but in quite a different way. Instead of the drugs being on the inside of the Liposomes, they're attached on the outside. They then attached bumpers or larger molecules onto bare surfaces of the Liposomes thereby making sure that the Melettin is specifically designed to target the HIV Virus, being as it's much smaller than the Healthy Cells.




Thus, this makes it safe to attack cancerous cells and small Viruses like HIV, H1N1 (Swine Flue) or even the Common Cold. This as theoretically, it can also be safely injected intravenously into the blood stream and effectively clear out HIV and any other Viruses along with Cancer, to quote Joshua L. Hood, MD, PhD, Researcher at the Washington University School of Medicine: “The basic particle that we are using in these experiments was developed many years ago as an artificial blood product. It didn't work very well for delivering oxygen, but it circulates safely in the body and gives us a nice platform that we can adapt to fight different kinds of infections”.

Suddenly this discovery look like a cure for not just AIDS but a variety of diseases caused by ANY virus, effectively Olympus has Fallen (2013) and given us a Panacea for every disease on planet Earth. More as this potential Panacea in future articles on my personal blog and the Geezam blog
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