“It’s hard to visualise what something as small and complex as the HIV virus actually looks like. But now Ivan Konstantinov and his team from Visual Science have created the most-detailed 3D model of the virus to date (see video above). An image of this visualisation just won first place in the 2010 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored jointly by the journal Science and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The model contains 17 different viral and cellular proteins and the membrane incorporates 160 thousand lipid molecules, of 8 different types, in the same proportions as in an actual HIV particle. It denotes the parts encoded by the virus’s own genome in orange, while grey shades indicate structures taken into the virus when it interacts with a human cell. To create the visualisation, the team consulted over 100 articles on HIV from leading science journals and talked to experts in the field. Then they reconstructed viral proteins from X-rays before assembling the structure of an entire HIV particle. The final appearance was achieved by experienced designers and 3D graphics specialists.”
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