Monday, 14 May 2007

A&G Centre HIV Project 3. Prof Ben Berkhout: AMC AIDS Laboratories

Wednesday 25th of April I had a meeting with Prof Ben Berkhout at the University of Amsterdam's Medical Centre (AMC), Immunology Department.

Berkhout is a molecular biologist working directly with the complete HIV virus, unlike many researchers who may actually deal with only one component of the virus such as a particular protein etc. He gave me some up to date information on the innovative research they are doing on the virus using a live virus as a vaccine. They have developed a virus which can be turned on and off by using an antibiotic as a trigger. They'll be testing this on macaws in the near future. He also showed me some recent research on the visulaisation of the virus, a couple of websites:
They have deciphered the shape of a particular protein in HIV 1 which takes on the stable form of a tripod like structure. It interesting to find out that they do not even know what the virus itself really looks like internally, and this kind of visual research is still somewhat in its infancy, due to the minute size of the virus itself.

I was also lucky enough to gain access to their BSL3 (Biological Safety Level 3) Aids Lab. Rienk Jeeninga (pictured) gave me the tour.

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