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Medicine Australia Science

Australian Scientists Discover Potential Aids Cure 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the saving-lives dept.
smi.james.th writes "Several sites report that Australian researcher David Harrich and his team have potentially discovered a way to stop HIV becoming AIDS and ultimately cure the disease. From the article: 'What we've actually done is taken a normal virus protein that the virus needs to grow, and we've changed this protein, so that instead of assisting the virus, it actually impedes virus replication and does it quite strongly.' This could potentially hail one of modern medicine's greatest victories."
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Australian Scientists Discover Potential Aids Cure

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  • by smi.james.th (1706780) on Friday January 18, 2013 @01:47AM (#42623531)
    Trials here in South Africa showed that circumcision reduced the HIV infection rate [mrc.ac.za], because apparently the skin on the inside of the foreskin is more porous, therefore without it there was less of a gap for the virus to get in. This only works one-way, naturally, and it's not 100%, but while no cure was in sight, I think it's better than doing nothing.
  • by reverseengineer (580922) on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:08AM (#42623625)

    This would be a gene therapy treatment- using viral vector to express a mutant protein in your cells. Last year, the European Medicines Agency approved a gene therapy treatment for the first time (no approvals in the US currently). Glybera is indicated for lipoprotein lipase deficiency, a rare disorder that affects fatty acid metabolism. Glybera uses a viral vector to deliver a working copy of the LPL gene to cells; this proposed AIDS treatment would deliver a nonworking copy of TAT to infected cells in a similar fashion. I bring up Glybera for comparison purposes because it is expected to cost over 1 million dollars a patient for a course of treatment. Eventually, gene therapy may become such a routine way of creating treatments that costs will be very low. That is not the present situation.

  • by mrbluze (1034940) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:18AM (#42623831) Journal

    Just starting animal trials. Too early to know if it's really going to work.

    The preliminary results of the animal trials are startlingly good, and in an interview the chief researcher said he believes the approval cycle will be short (ie: less than 5 years) because of the probability that this therapy will pass safety trials etc. We'll have to wait and see of course.

  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:21AM (#42623835) Journal

    1. They aren't allowed to advertise prescription medicine.
    2. They aren't allowed to offer payola to doctors for using their drugs. Both the doctor and the company get busted if they get caught.

    You've just described the developed world... except for the USA and New Zealand.
    Everyone else has strong limitations on direct-to-consumer-advertising, or an outright ban.

    3. Generics are readily available. Instead of buying Panadol (Tylanol) I can get Brand X paracetamol/codeine which is the same recipe but 1/4 the price. The same is true for most prescription drugs.

    As it turns out, generics aren't necessarily equivalent to the original perscription drug.
    Since it's late, you get the first article I found on Google [medpagetoday.com]
    It's a fair representation of the other articles I've read on the subject.

    The TLDR version is that generics don't always make the same amount of drug available to the patient
    and even if they do, the drug may not be released in the same fashion, leading to early or late peaks of the drug.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Friday January 18, 2013 @04:03AM (#42623983) Homepage

    Protip: Medicines with the same Product License Number are the same. The number has to be printed on the packaging. If you compare various over-the-counter painkillers, for example, you will find that the cheap own-brand ones, the branded ones, the fast actions ones, the long lasting ones and the premium max strength ones all have the same Product License Number and are in fact exactly the same.

  • by reverseengineer (580922) on Friday January 18, 2013 @04:51AM (#42624127)

    I can't say for certain without full access to the paper, but based on the use of a retroviral vector and Dr. Harrich's comments in the video interview, I think the idea would be to infect a population of your hematopoietic stem cells with retroviruses that carry the Nullbasic (mutant copy of Tat) gene. That procedure would be similar to the autologous HSC transplants used in treatment of some leukemias and lymphomas- but then they'd infect the HSCs with the retroviral vector before they put them back in you.

    Upon successful infection, the RNA genome of the vector is converted via reverse transcriptase to a DNA sequence. The vector will also produce some enzymes that will integrate the Nullbasic-DNA gene into the DNA genome of your stem cells. If successful, those cells will now produce Nullbasic protein. Since they are stem cells, they will produce Nullbasic-positive blood cells, some of which will be the CD4+ T-cells that HIV infects.

    HIV will still infect these cells, inject its RNA genome into the cell, which will be converted to DNA, integrated into the host cell genome, transcribed back to RNA, then translated to viral proteins by the cell's machinery. However, the host cell also makes Nullbasic protein, which act like HIV's Tat, and will interact with the same enzymes, transcription factors, etc., but instead of boosting their functions, it will inhibit them. In theory, HIV would reproduce so slowly in your population of Nullbasic+ T-cells that it simply wouldn't be a disease- the population would never fall to the point of causing immunodeficiency.

    The phrase, "in theory" could also apply to most of the other steps I outlined above, of course.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @06:26AM (#42624397)

    Please note that this is not in contradiction to TubeSteaks reference:

    Bioavailability of generic versions of epilepsy drugs was generally similar to that of their branded counterparts, but not so much when supposedly bioequivalent products were compared with each other, researchers said.

    So if the generics are epsilon close to the orignal, they may (and arcoding to the article do) differ by 2epsilon from each other...

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Friday January 18, 2013 @07:12AM (#42624539) Homepage Journal
    DNA is a retrovirus. It inserts itself into host DNA. You could eliminate every virus particle from a human and they would not be cured.

"Ignorance is the soil in which belief in miracles grows." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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