German Student’s Doctoral Thesis May Offer HIV
By James Donahue
Dr. Indrani Sarkar is a member
of a new and upcoming number of brilliant young researchers who may be solving insurmountable world problems that have baffled
the established scientific world for decades.
Sarkar last year completed
her Ph.D. with a thesis on anti-retroviral therapy. The work included development of an engineered enzyme called Tre that
she and co-researchers believe may lead to a permanent cure for the dreaded Human Immuno-deficiency Virus, or HIV.
Sarkar said the enzyme has
the capability of recognizing and cutting the virus out of the genome of the infected cell.
Because the enzyme may have
the capability of attacking not only the HIV, but other deadly viral diseases that attack the human body, scientists are referring
to it as the “tre of life,” an interesting reference to the kabalistic tree that is a mystical image of personal
strength and the human relationship to the god within. Part of this philosophy, among the Yogi, is the “coiled serpent,”
or Kundalini, a power believed to exist within the spine.
That coiled serpent is beautifully
expressed in the artwork depicting the DNA Coil, of which the human genome project has been skillfully at work since 1990.
Dr. Sarkar’s research
began in 2002 while she was a student at the Max Planck Institute in Desden, Germany. Her paper, co-authored with a team of
scientists from the Max Plank Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and the University of Hamburg’s Heinrich
Pette Institute for Experimental Virology and Immunology, was recently published in Science Magazine.
While the paper is highly technical
and difficult for the layman to grasp, Sarkar explains that the Tre enzyme is capable of “detecting, recognizing and
destroying HIV, much like a pair of molecular scissors.”
She said it targets the genome
of the virus and literally removes it from the human cell. The enzyme that Sarkar and her team developed after a year and
126 “cycles of mutation” completely eliminated HIV in the human genome within three months under laboratory conditions.
While the engineered enzyme
worked under laboratory conditions, this doesn’t mean that Sarkar has discovered a sure-fire cure for AIDS. She says
much more work needs to be done before clinical trials can be considered. If the discovery leads to a cure, the final result
may be years in the future.