Microsoft Research scientist David Heckerman on how we could attack HIV like spam

Children display ribbon cutouts tied to balloons during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to mark World AIDS Day in Kolkata on Dec. 1, 2014. (Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters)Although efforts to create an AIDS vaccine have gone on for more than three decades, none has produced a successful result. Strategies that have worked for more than a dozen other pathogens are easily thwarted by the slippery and unpredictable quick-change artist known as human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. HIV has evolved into a master of avoiding immune system detection by undergoing spontaneous mutations that effectively make it a moving target. The most common and virulent strain of the virus, HIV-1, has the highest reported mutation rate for any biological system, a study published in PLOS Biology last year discovered. In fact, the number of…


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