Scientists image a single HIV particle being born

Freakin’ wow. Scientists from Rockerfeller University and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center have imaged, in real time, molecules coming together to form an HIV particle. As a cell biologist used to working with bright-field and dark-field microscopes that is trying to get his head around the idea of nanomedicine, that’s just freakin’ wow.
From the Newswire article on Rockerfeller University’s website, “By using a specialized microscope that illuminates only a cell’s surface, they have become the first to see, in real time and in plain view, hundreds of thousands of molecules coming together in a living cell to form a single particle of the virus that has, in less than 25 years, claimed more than 25 million lives: HIV.
“Unlike a classical microscope, which shines light through a whole cell, the technique called total internal reflection microscopy illuminates only the cell’s surface, where HIV assembles.
“By zeroing in at the cell’s surface, the team became the first to document the time it takes for each HIV particle, or virion, to assemble: five to six minutes. “At first, we had no idea whether it would take milliseconds or hours,” says Jouvenet. “We just didn’t know.”
Read the full article here and keep an eye on the university’s front page for a link to the video. They’ve been slashdotted, etc, so the video was offline when I looked.