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Biotech Science

Human Blood May Contain A Cure For AIDS 309

Lisandro writes "German scientists at the University of Ulm have identified a natural ingredient of human blood that prevents the HIV-1 virus from from infecting immune cells and multiplying. The molecule, which they call virus-inhibitory peptide (VIRIP), promises new types of effective treatment for HIV in the future. 'Tweaks to its amino acid components boosted its anti-HIV potency by two orders of magnitude. Tests also showed that some derivatives of the molecule are highly stable in human blood plasma, and non-toxic even at very high concentrations. A synthetic version of VIRIP also proved effective at blocking HIV, excluding the possibility that some other factor was responsible. VIRIP targets a sugar molecule which HIV uses to infect a host cell. '"
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Human Blood May Contain A Cure For AIDS

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  • by slusich ( 684826 ) * <> on Friday April 20, 2007 @01:30PM (#18813847)
    Seems like every six months or so now, there's some new research promising new hope for AIDS.
    I really hope that this turns into something, but until one of these new finds turns into a cure or at least a vaccine I'll still be seeing freinds die.
    I'm just sick of hearing of new breakthroughs and then not hearing another word about them.
  • Sythesis (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrWho520 ( 655973 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @01:35PM (#18813923) Journal
    'Tweaks to its amino acid components boosted its anti-HIV potency by two orders of magnitude. Tests also showed that some derivatives of the molecule are highly stable in human blood plasma, and non-toxic even at very high concentrations. A synthetic version of VIRIP also proved effective at blocking HIV, excluding the possibility that some other factor was responsible. VIRIP targets a sugar molecule which HIV uses to infect a host cell. '"

    Yes, but how effective. Generally, drug companies synthesize naturally occurring compounds (effedrine vs. psuedoeffedrine) to remove nasty side effects and improve performance. However, this systhesis also allows the companies to patent their drug formulations and charge exhorbitant amounts of money for they molecular forgeries. In this case, I wonder how "proved effective" matches up with a two orders of magnitude boost in potency. Everyone needs to see a return on investment, but if there is no reason to make a synthetic version and the (tweaked) naturally occuring version works as well or better, I would hope seeing return on investment is translated as "lives saved" and not "dollars earned."
  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Friday April 20, 2007 @01:42PM (#18814033) Homepage
    I don't mean to be insensitivity or brash. I am very hopeful this will turn into a cure. But statements like "I'll still be seeing friends die" sounds like lies to me - how many friends with HIV can you actually have?

    When it comes down to it - HIV and AIDS are very easily preventable diseases. Anyone who takes proper minimal precautions will not get HIV or AIDS, unless they are maliciously targetted or woth in a health-related field and/or are VERY unlucky.

    Personally I have always felt the absolutely enormous amounts of money funneled into AIDS research would be much better spent on areas like Type 1 diabetes, MLS, and other genetic diseases, which affect far more people and is not preventable in any way.

    In the end, it of course all comes down to the all mighty dollar. The reason you see so much money pumped into HIV/AIDS is there is so much potential for money to be MADE FROM IT. If someone has HIV/AIDS they will pay ANYTHING for a cure. Someone with Type I diabetes can live a full life, even if the quality of it is degraded. You can't say the same for an AIDS patient, even if it is their fault they became infected.

  • virus mutation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @01:43PM (#18814047) Journal
    HIV mutates very quickly, it is able to survive in the body because it changes so often which also means that if this treatment works as well as they say and gets used alot, the virus will likely adapt to survive against it. eventually we will have the same problem with this treatment as we do with antibiotics.
  • by ObiWanStevobi ( 1030352 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @01:55PM (#18814219) Journal

    Humans have been circumventing Darwin for centuries. The only thing left we don't control are viruses and cancer. And it's not like it's such a bad thing, with the exception of stupid people living so long. Modern society, with it's welfare, social security, laws, birth control, medicine, and safety regulations all fly in the face of natural selection. If you're stupid, we have all these laws and people looking out for you to keep you from doing something stupid and killing youself. If you're lazy, we'll make sure someone gets you food so you don't starve. If you're not a dominant member of the herd, we'll try to make sure those that are treat you fairly.

    Once again, those aren't by any means bad things (unless Idiocracy was a doumentary), just saying we've been immune to most aspects of natural selection for a long time now.

  • Re:A New Protein (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2007 @01:59PM (#18814277)
    My crystal ball says that your hope for a career in comedy is doomed.
  • by nvrrobx ( 71970 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:13PM (#18814519) Homepage
    If you don't mean to be insensitive or brash, why are you being that way?

    I have lost two people so far to this disease in my life, and I have more than 5 friends that are HIV+ today.

    To say that type 1 diabetes, a treatable disease, deserves more money than HIV/AIDS research is absolutely ludicrious. Type 1 diabetes will kill you if left untreated. HIV/AIDS will kill you, period. The retrovirals help extend your life, but have no doubt, it is a terminal disease. Have you ever seen someone die of HIV/AIDS? Please go down to Africa and explain to the people living with HIV and AIDS there that they aren't as important as a diabetes patient.

    Are you aware how expensive the medication to treat HIV is? Compare that to the cost of insulin then get back to me.
  • by Not_Wiggins ( 686627 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:17PM (#18814581) Journal
    It may be true to a certain degree in the West, but in Africa where 15 million have died from AIDS, and 24 million are infected, it's clearly not so 'easy' to prevent.

    Errr... the problem with HIV/AIDS in Africa is a cultural and economic one, not one of "can't be prevented."

    The use of condoms drastically reduces infection rates. The problem that I've been reading about in Africa is that condoms are not utilized because they interfere too much in the love making process (ie, takes too long to put them on, and they're too expensive). A prototype device is being introduced here [] to try and address those issues.

    Spread of this disease is preventable (which was the GP post's point); efforts to educate and provide the protection would be immediately effective versus waiting for a scientific cure... which would also have to be made available cheaply enough to help impoverished Africa (ie, not for many years after being made available on the market).
  • by Intron ( 870560 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:17PM (#18814585)
    "I don't mean to be insensitivity"

    you failed

    "HIV and AIDS are very easily preventable diseases."

    So is the common cold, and the method is pretty similar, just never touch anybody else.

    "even if it is their fault they became infected"

    The real reason that you don't want to see money spent on AIDS research, your basic belief that they deserved what they got. Good thing you're never done anything stupid in your life.

    Lung cancer and diabetes are also due to lifestyle, but nobody is blaming the victims they way they do with AIDS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:18PM (#18814599)

    People have choices.

    Maybe. Maybe not. According to science, everything that happens (including human behavior) is under the control of the laws of physics. Unless people can modify the laws of physics then they may not, fundamentally, have control of their "choices". But I digress...

    If you make bad choices you can't really complain about the consequences.

    But if you make a "good" choice then you can complain about the consequences? Who decides what is a "good" choice and what is a "bad" choice?

    Maybe what you meant is that people should face the consequences of the risks they take. The thing is, just about anything that a person does is risky. Driving your family to church on Sunday is risky. Should the government avoid spending any money on traffic safety and emergency reponse to traffic accidents because a family driving to church on Sunday should bear the consequences of the risks it took.

    You may think that the government should not try to deflect the consequences for people who take risks by having multiple sexual partners. Someone else might think that the government should not try to deflect the consequences for people who take risks by driving their family to church on Sunday. Personally, I'm not comfortable with the government deciding what is "good" behavior and "bad" behavior.

    Not only that but there can be indirect benefits to having the government alleviate consequences of taking risks. If the government could ever find a true cure for AIDS then AIDS could be wiped out entirely and then no one would have to worry about infection from even "good" behavior (e.g. helping a bloody accident victim who has AIDS).

  • by dru ( 4742 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:49PM (#18815045)

    When it comes down to it - HIV and AIDS are very easily preventable diseases.

    That may be true, in the same, clinical way that lung cancer and obesity are easily preventable diseases. The complication arises when you try to change human behavior on a societal level. People consume carbonated soda and french fries becase it tastes good! People smoke because it feels good! The same is true of sex and IV drugs.

    Add to this the fact that humans are very bad at assessing risk, and you have a recipe for the HIV epidemic.

  • by Frozen Void ( 831218 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:54PM (#18815127) Homepage
    Non-toxic doesn't mean its harmless.It could alter metabolism or immune function such that they work expending 2x more energy or making adverse effects(e.g. like cytokine storm) when fighting something else.
    Besides the virus is too young(several human generations age) for us to evolve(and Central Africa would be the first to have evolutionary advantage) more of the anti-virus functions.
  • by zymurgyboy ( 532799 ) <zymurgyboy@yaSLA ... com minus distro> on Friday April 20, 2007 @02:55PM (#18815157)

    I don't mean to be insensitivity or brash.
    Then don't proceed to be. It doesn't excuse the insensitive, judgemental comments that follow.

    Sure, some people weren't as careful as they should have been and got infected, but guess what... They live in the same world with the rest of us and can subsequently spread their illness. This is a public health issue. Morality judgements of people infected with STDs don't bring about cures for them any faster. Nor does the attempted imposition of the same morality on the rest of the, as yet, uninfected population seem to be having much effect in slowing down the spread either, let alone stopping it.

    How 'bout instead of taking research money away from HIV and giving it some more morally worthy disease, we just resolve to spend more research money on all of them and stop making questionable moral assessments of sick people.

  • by Spazntwich ( 208070 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @03:01PM (#18815253)
    At 16, you should be focusing more on increasing physical activity levels than dieting to lose weight, but if you had 50lbs to lose in the first place, you're doing the right thing in dropping a good bit of it.

    I'd suggest stopping the low carb diet once you hit somewhere below 15% bodyfat. A good indication is when what might be a spare tire turns into more of a small set of saddlebags, and you've got decent definition in your arms.

    You've got at least two, probably 3 or 4, years of growth left in you, and it would be a pity to stunt your growth due to any deficiencies in nutrients you suffered losing weight you could lose later anyway.
  • by dharbee ( 1076687 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @03:04PM (#18815289)
    How weak is your position that instead of discussing the subject you mod me down for something that I didn't do?

    I'm not allowed to expect people to be accountable for their mistakes? I have been and it sucked a lot.

    I'm not allowed to prefer curing a disease that attacks anyone and everyone regardless of what they do or who they are over a disease that is almost entirely preventable?

    There was no troll there. You should be ashamed of yourself.
  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Friday April 20, 2007 @03:05PM (#18815305) Journal
    Comparing AIDS and the common cold is ridiculous. You can get the cold from almost anything, but to get AIDS you have to either have sex with someone who has it, or inject their blood...As a virus goes, it's extremely difficult to catch.

    While blaming the victim is rarely worthwhile, this is a disease that could basically be eradicated by education, testing, and self control. The reason it's spread so widely is that people aren't into any of those things.
  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot.keirstead@org> on Friday April 20, 2007 @03:31PM (#18815637) Homepage
    When it comes down to it, you are born with Diabetes. You aren't born with AIDS - you got it either due to being extremely unlocky or due to your own ineptitide.

    People with Type I diabetes lives are no picnic. Imagine telling a 1 year old child they have to inject a needle ito themselves 3 times a day for the rest of their known lives. Imagine having too explain to everyone you aren't a junkie, you are a diabetic, every time they see needles all over your house.

    There is a HUGE DIFFERENCE in morality between treating someone who was born with a genetic defect, vs. treating someone who basically shot themselves in the foot by not wearing a condom or sharing needles.

  • Re:Dear God. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['oo.' in gap]> on Friday April 20, 2007 @03:37PM (#18815707) Journal
    Yeah, well if YOUR so omniscient, you'd know the poor guy can't type very well. Not to mention, if you're so omnipotent and omni-benevolent, why'd you go and do that to poor Stephen in the first place, huh?

    I mean really, you simply ARE. Real Godheads neither exist nor don't exist.

  • by Dannon ( 142147 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @03:48PM (#18815893) Journal
    My fiance is a Red Cross certified HIV/AIDS instructor, so I've gotten a good earfull of what is and isn't true about AIDS "cures".

    The "cocktail" that's currently used to treat HIV infection drugs to prevent HIV from entering cells, drugs to keep it from reproducing inside cells, and drugs to keep it from breaking out of infected cells. From what I read in the summary, this new treatment fits in that first category. Good thing, because HIV has this nasty tendency to mutate and become immune to any given drug after years and years of use. When that happens, the patient has no choice but to switch over to another combination of drugs, probably more expensive, and probably not as friendly to the body. If this "blood-derived" treatment adds to the list of patient-friendly treatments available, that's fantastic.

    But the way I read this, it isn't the magic bullet "cure for AIDS" everyone is wishing for. It can slow down the progress of an infection, but reversing that progress is another matter altogether. Ditto for undoing damage to the immune system.
  • by Stripsurge ( 162174 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @03:56PM (#18816043) Homepage
    "...20-residue peptide, designated VIRUS-INHIBITORY PEPTIDE (VIRIP)corresponding to the C-proximal region of 1-antitrypsin, the most abundant circulating serine protease inhibitor."

    The 1-antitrypsin protein is something there's a lot of in the blood. Its role is prevent one of the body's degrading proteins from breaking down things it shouldn't be breaking down. This 20 residue peptide is just the end bit of the larger protein. The anti-HIV functions are more like a happy side effect of the larger protein's breakdown. Now I have no idea how quickly the anti-trypsin breaks down and what the natural levels of the VIRIP are. I would speculate though that people who are immune to HIV have a mutation that either produces VIRIP (or something close to it) on its own or the antitrypsin has picked up a mutation that in some way exposes the C-proximal end or promotes it breaking off more readily.

  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <> on Friday April 20, 2007 @04:16PM (#18816355) Journal
    On the part of their parents, perhaps? You don't get choices when you're that age, you get things handed to you. If you manage to be born without contracting HIV from an HIV positive mother, which is pretty likely if you can score a c-section, but still possible for a natural birth, you can still catch it from breast milk.

    I still think coming out of the body of someone who is HIV positive qualifies as "hard to get this disease", and "drinking the breast milk of an infected individual" is pretty high up there as well.
  • by zymurgyboy ( 532799 ) <zymurgyboy@yaSLA ... com minus distro> on Friday April 20, 2007 @04:17PM (#18816375)
    What makes you so sure his friends spread it, or that the people that gave it to them knew they had it. The incubation period for HIV can last for years with no noticeable symptoms.

    AIDS is a terrible disease but unless it is dealt with as a health crisis and not a badge of honor or rebellion, it isn't going to get much better. And the idea that it is somehow a right to spread the disease uncontrollably is not helping.
    It is a terrible disease but everything you said right after that is absolutely asinine. Find someone who has it and ask them if they feel like a rebel or if they feel honored to have joined the ranks of the terminally ill. WTF??!?

    If we treated this disease like the measles were treated in the 1800's AIDS would be gone in 10 years, never to be heard from again.
    Measles incubation prior to apparent symptoms being displayed is all of 7 to 14 days. The possibility of going for years with the infection, not knowing you have it, and spreading it to others is just not the case with that. Criss-crossing the globe in a day wasn't possible in the nineteenth century. Not mention, measles hasn't exactly been eradicated yet [].

  • by sorak ( 246725 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @04:56PM (#18817037)

    I am not a scientist, but there is no guarantee that this particular strain of HIV can exist without that sugar molecule, or that evolution will occur fast enough to save the species. For example, this may be like removing oxygen from a human environment. Sure, we may one day evolve the ability to exist on another common chemical, but we could never do it in time, if a natural catastrophe should strike.

    This could be an excellent argument for organizations trying to distribute AIDs drugs in third world nations (once they get their hands on this one), since the practice of curing only those who can afford it would simply allow the virus to exist long enough to evolve (if possible), whereas curing everybody could could make it go the way of polio and small-pox.

    But, I reiterate. I am not a scientist, so the next person to read this may point out where I am wrong.

  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Friday April 20, 2007 @05:41PM (#18817699) Homepage Journal
    "Does this stuff affect other viruses? "

    Perhaps, but probably not.

    "If so, why doesn't the body make more of it already? Would that be too biologically expensive, or would that have problematic effects we haven't recognized yet?"

    The reason that we don't have more of it already is that there has been no selective pressure on our genome to produce more of it. That is, we reproduce ourselves well enough without it.

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde