Physics of Biology


New Theory of HIV Diversification

Authors: Edward J Steele, Roger L Dawkins

Abstract Several observations suggest that the mutation rate of the Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV), the causative agent of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), is much higher than generally believed. This evidence is briefly reviewed. A new speculative theory for HIV diversification (in development since 2013) is thus proposed whereby the virus co-opts the host’s somatic hypermutation (SHM) machinery normally targeted to rearranged immunoglobulin (Ig) variable genes (VDJs) within antigen-activated Germinal Centre B lymphocytes. The pessimistic conclusion - that a conventional vaccine is impossible – is a message not really welcomed in this modern age addicted to only positive scientific results. We argue this should be taken as a spur to approach viral prophylaxis and therapy from entirely new directions. Viruses, particularly HIV and its antecedents, have had billions of years of both cosmic and terrestrial evolution to figure out, by trial and error, how to multiply and infect the next host cell. The implications of our novel and plausible HIV immune evasion strategy is discussed both for the host-parasite relationship and current vaccine research. Because the straight forward and simple idea in this paper has been in preparation for three years it has been found necessary to add a Post Script to this submission.

Comments: 39 Pages.

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Submission history

[v1] 2016-12-26 09:07:03
[v2] 2016-12-26 18:26:36

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