An important breakthrough has been made in the eradication of AIDs. Scientists have found they can successfully snip out the HIV virus from mouse cells using CRISPR/Cas9 technology.
Right now patients with the deadly virus must use a toxic concoction of anti-retroviral medications to suppress the virus from replicating. However, CRISPR/Cas9 can be programmed to chop out any genetic code in the body with scissor-like precision, including all HIV-1 DNA within the body. And if you cut out the DNA, you stop the virus from being able to make copies of itself.
First published in the journal Molecular Therapy, the team is the first to show HIV can be completely annihilated from the body using CRISPR. And with impressive effect. After just one treatment, scientists were able to show the technique had successfully removed all traces of the infection within mouse organs and tissue.
However, it’s not a permanent solution and it’s still early days for the crew — the study merely builds on a previous proof-of-concept study they conducted last year and the technique has only been used on mice so far. But, should the scientists be able to replicate their findings, the technique could move to human trials in the future.
“The next stage would be to repeat the study in primates, a more suitable animal model where HIV infection induces disease, in order to further demonstrate elimination of HIV-1 DNA in latently infected T cells and other sanctuary sites for HIV-1, including brain cells,” said co-author of the study Dr. Khalili in a statement. “Our eventual goal is a clinical trial in human patients.”
"Shortly after images started arriving, some of Cassini’s scientists said they were seeing ‘some stuff’ they’d never seen before," Jo Pitesky, a project science engineer for Cassini at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), previously told Business Insider in an email. "After almost thirteen years in orbit, Saturn continues to amaze and astound us."
Now the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released a brand-new video that shows exactly where, when, and how the spacecraft filmed the unprecedented string of images during its "first fantastic dive".
One view in the new animation follows the Cassini spacecraft, showing where its camera was pointed during the first hour of its dive between Saturn and the planet’s rings:
During the last moments, you can see the robot flip itself to deflect any wandering (and dangerous) bits of Saturn’s rings.
"In the half-hour or so along the closest point of the flyby, we’re pointing the high-gain antenna down, like a giant shield, to protect the instruments behind it," Linda Spilker, a Cassini project scientist and a planetary scientist at NASA’s JPL, previously told Business Insider. "We call this position ‘shield to ram.’"
A similar view zooms out from the gas giant, showing Cassini as a red dot that traces from north to south:
The clip cuts off shortly before the robot plunges through the void, since it was moving more than 76,800 mph — 45 times faster than a speeding bullet — and couldn’t take clear photos fast enough.
21 death-defying dives, plus 1 final plunge
The new images are just a taste of the data that NASA has scooped up (and will continue to get) by flying its $3.26 billion mission into uncharted territory.
Called the "Grand Finale," the goal is to squeeze as many discoveries as possible out of 22 extremely close and unprecedented flybys of Saturn and its rings.
The first, which generated the movies above, occurred on April 26.
Preston Dyches, a spokesperson for NASA JPL, said Cassini might have been able to get larger, more detailed images, but the team opted for lower quality on purpose.
"This is a mode in which the camera cuts down the image size by half in order to take images faster," Dyches previously told Business Insider in an email, adding that color likely won’t come to these first images. "It’s a trade off you make in order to capture something very close moving very quickly beneath you."
A second ring crossing happened on May 2, but NASA began downloading the images on May 3.
The 22nd and final orbit will destroy the nuclear-powered probe, burning it up in the clouds of Saturn on September 15, 2017.
This death is by design: The probe is low on propellant, and NASA doesn’t want it to crash into — and possibly contaminate — Enceladus and Titan, two icy moons of Saturn that may hide oceans with conditions that could foster alien life.
Watch NASA’s entire animation of Cassini’s first dive below.
Well if this lil’ home video doesn’t fill you with excitement and awe, check your pulse because you’re probably dead.
NASA’s Cassini’s spacecraft has been undergoing a series of risky AF "dives" or "ring crossings," swooping between Saturn and its icy rings and over the planet’s surface, capturing some incredible images (and spooky sounds) in the process.
Now, prepare to have your space pants blown off by this — an incredible movie-like sequence of images captured on April 26 on the first of the craft’s "grand finale" dives.
Captured at 6,800 miles per hour (aka 45 times faster than a speeding bullet) the "movie" represents the exploration of uncharted territory for the $3.26 billion mission.
Kunio Sayanagi, an associate of the Cassini imaging team who helped create the movie said, "I was surprised to see so many sharp edges along the hexagon’s outer boundary and the eye-wall of the polar vortex. Something must be keeping different latitudes from mixing to maintain those edges."
A second animation, tacked onto the footage, adds an image of Saturn for reference. The red dot on the Saturn image shows the location of each frame in the movie.
The third and final animation shows Cassini’s position and orientation above Saturn as the images were being taken, along with the camera’s field of view projected onto the planet.
The 22nd and final orbit will destroy the probe, burning it up in the clouds of Saturn on September 15, 2017.
Until, just sit back and ponder how small and insignificant we all are. Thanks, NASA!