Peering into a mysterious and tiny world for the first time, a team from Visual Science has given us a new and revealing look inside HIV. Lead by Ivan Konstantinov, the group has built the most detailed 3D model of the virus to date. To create the image, the team consulted over 100 leading science journals and then reconstructed viral proteins from x-ray images. With this information in hand, their team of 3D graphics designers were able to create an accurate and detailed image in about 3 months.
What do the different colors mean? Orange indicates parts encoded by the virus’s own genome, while gray indicates structures taken into the virus when it interacts with a human cell.
The full sized image of the virus is highly detailed and Konstantinov says it is suitable for poster size printing. At the moment the plan is to use the image in classroom situations and to popularize scientific research. Of course, it also has applications as a research tool for better understanding and combating this dangerous disease.