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HIV

Published On June 18, 2018

TECHNOLOGY

Antibody Necklace

A unique collaboration between an artist and a biomedical engineer moves HIV research forward.

This beaded necklace takes its inspiration from an antibody found in HIV-positive patients. Its twists mirror those of the 21 amino acids that compose the protein, and each bead contains copies of the amino acid it is meant to represent. They are anchored on fabric that has been dyed with Coomassie Brilliant Blue—a stain used in laboratories to visualize and separate proteins.

The piece is a collaboration between artist Anna Dumitriu and Xiang Li, a biomedical engineer at the University of California, Irvine. Li’s lab is trying to introduce an additional amino acid—sulfotyrosine—into this protein structure, so that it can better block HIV infections. Through his close work with Dumitriu to create the necklace, Li discovered errors in his own models, which he was then able to remedy.