Take a look at Nature this week: the article ‘The battle within’ by Melinda Wenner gives an intriguing insight into the interactions taking place between viruses in the body. She highlights the interaction between HIV and two other viruses, human herpesvirus-6 and GB-virus-C. Infection with the first hastens HIV disease and infection with the second prolongs life in HIV patients. And that’s not the half of it when you get down to what’s going on in cells.
The upshot is that while no one is willing to deliberately infect people to prevent them getting HIV there must be scope for new forms of therapy here if the interactions between various microbes and the immune system could be disentangled.
Wenner interviews Leonid Margolis who thinks virologists and others should construct a ‘periodic table of viruses’ that lists their interactions with the immune system. This table could help researchers predict how viruses infecting the same cell might interact with each other.