HIV: Lightning bugs shedding light on female transmission
Until now, it was believed that HIV enters cells in the female reproductive tract through the cervix. But thanks to fireflies, scientists have been able to understand which parts of the female reproductive system are the most vulnerable to early infection, and this could help researchers develop more efficient preventative treatments.
Researchers modified the virus and added a genes from fluorescent proteins and lightning bugs to make their modified virus glow. By working with primates, they were then able to track the virus’s progression, and they found that the HIV-like virus entered cells through the entire reproductive tract, not just through the cervix.
Understanding this will help researchers figure out a way to develop preventative treatments aimed at the entire female reproductive tract. Hopefully, this work will help scientists develop an effective HIV vaccine. Read more about it here.