I am under the impression that the image above shows the first-ever “snapshot” of the structure of an enzyme that could help resist HIV and the onset of AIDS.
According to an article from Reuters, some small percentage of people possess hA3G in spades, and they can fight off the effects of HIV for longer than others. The question is how. Knowing what the enzyme looks like helps scientists understand the chemical processes better and could help “design a drug to mimic its effects and perhaps provide the first medicine to boost the ability to fight AIDS,” as the Reuters reportage puts it.
According to the associated research article, “high-molecular-mass (HMM) complex […] can be transformed in vitro into an active, low-molecular-mass (LMM) variant comparable to that of HIV-non-permissive CD4+ T-cells.” Which seems to be something good.
The point, as far as this blog is concerned, is that the general structure of this important compound has been unlocked—or at least the first steps have been taken to understanding more about its elusive nature. Moreover, the spatial depiction of the chemical structure is fundamental to unlocking its secrets. And that’s what visualization is all about.