Eyam was an isolated English community that mysteriously survived the plague (Black Death) even though every member of the community was exposed to the epidemic. What could have saved them?
Dr. Stephen O'Brien decided to try and solve the mystery of the past of Eyam in order to save lives in the future. Historian John Clifford examined the parish records of Eyam to establish who lived and who died in 1665—the year the plague came to the community.
They found descendants like Joan Plant, who could trace her mother's lineage back ten generations, to relatives who lived through the plague. DNA samples were taken from the descendants and examined repeatedly at University College in London.
A mutated gene, delta 32, was found in all the subjects' DNA. This is the same mutated gene found in Steve Crohn and other high-risk HIV negative subjects. Their blood was exposed to 3000 times the amount of HIV needed to infect a cell, but the blood never became infected!
Dr. O'Brien believed that delta 32 could be preventing the infections (the plague and HIV) to enter the host's white blood cells.
Drug companies are now exploring the possibilities of developing medicine that would mimic delta 32 by blocking the attachment of HIV, preventing the disease. It is still in experimental stages, but it brings new hope to the fight against HIV/Aids.