NEWSFLASH: POTENTIAL CURE FOR AIDS?

On Friday, November 7, 2008, an article entitled "A Doctor, a Mutation, and a Potential Cure for AIDS" was published in the Wall Street Journal, discussing the possibility of a cure.

A 42-year old AIDS patient living in Berlin recently underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia, and the results were hopeful. According to the article, his doctor,
Gero Hutter, specifically replaced the patient's bone marrow cells with those of a donor who has a naturally occurring genetic mutation that renders his cells immune to almost all strains of HIV. Even though the patient is still recovering, his doctors have been unable to detect HIV in his blood for over 600 days! This is especially remarkable because he has stopped taking all conventional types of AIDS medication. Usually, when someone stops taking their AIDS medication, the virus once again charges through the body within days or weeks.

Even though this case may be just a chance occurrence, it does provide hope that gene-therapy approaches to a cure may be on the right track. However, gene-therapy is seen as being on the far edges of AIDS research, and can prove to be too expensive to roll out globally. Most gene therapy is characterized by removing cells, genetically modifying them outside of the body, and then transfusing them back in. In addition, gene-therapy has unfortunately seen its share of failures. In 1999, an 18-year old patient died in a gene therapy trial. Even as gene therapy was able to cure children of severe combined immunodeficiency disease, aka "bubble boy" disease, it also caused patients to develop leukemia.

Nonetheless, the article explains that current AIDS medication may prove to be unsustainable, especially since anti-retrovirals must be taken for life and are expensive for developing countries where the disease is heavily concentrated. Now the search for a cure has taken on a new sense of urgency. Furthermore, gene therapy is expected to eventually play a substantial role in modern medicine, and researchers are hopeful that this latest case in Berlin is a sign of good things yet to come, and a cure for AIDS may be on the horizon.

For the full article, check out http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122602394113507555.html

1 comments:

  Namų Darkytoja

November 16, 2008 at 6:06 PM

So did we reach a significant breakthrough and the cure for AIDS will be created in about a year; or this is only the beginning of a long process and the whole world will have to wait a great while for the AIDS cure? Vote here: http://www.votetheday.com/hiv-aids-cure/a-cure-for-aids-is-created-360