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Biotech Medicine Science

Gene Therapy May Thwart HIV 171

sciencehabit writes "Over the past few years, a man living in Berlin, Timothy Brown, has become world famous as the first — and thus far only — person to apparently have been cured of his HIV infection. Brown's HIV disappeared after he developed leukemia and doctors gave him repeated blood transfusions from a donor who harbored a mutated version of a receptor the virus uses to enter cells. Now, researchers report promising results from two small gene-therapy studies that mimic this strategy, hinting that the field may be moving closer to a cure that works for the masses."
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Gene Therapy May Thwart HIV

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 19, 2011 @08:07PM (#37450954)

    Then you know what it will do? Put thousands of people out of work!

    Think of the Pharmacists!

    • I'll trade in the pharmacists for unfettered, unprotected sex for all. A world without STDs would be an awesome world, indeed. Seinfeld's dream of an intercourse hello would be realized.
      • I'll trade in the pharmacists for unfettered, unprotected sex for all. A world without STDs would be an awesome world, indeed. Seinfeld's dream of an intercourse hello would be realized.

        Um. HIV is one that gives people the chills today but there are other STD's. Some, like genital herpes are highly contageous and incurable. Hepatitis C is less contageous but also incurable and potentially lethal. There are even antibiotic resistance forms of gonorrhea.

      • Hold it right there!

        As if HIV was the only STD and the others weren't dangerous or troublesome. Even today, HIV is the least of my concern. There is also HepB/C, HPV, Herpes, Syphilis... And unlike HIV, the infections usually come and go and you never know if you're still transmitting or if it'll get worse and cause cancer after a few decades (Hepatitis and HPV, specifically) either to you or your loved one.

        • But if you remove HIV you're certainly working towards such an event. I also *might* have been slightly facetious.
        • Syphilis? Come on man, this isn't the 19th century. You get syphilis you realize it and see a doctor. Some antibiotics later and you are cured. How can you compare that to HIV? Herpes would suck but it's common and controllable.. It doesn't result in slowly wasting away taking 100s of pills a day as you are treated like some sort of leper who is already dead. HPV I believe is already covered by a recent vaccine and hepatitis would suck but you can get it in other ways then sex anyway. HIV is the winner for

          • Syphilis = kinda agreed
            Herpes = it's annoying as fuck but agreed
            HPV = vaccine is only for two types and they are not the ones that cause cancer... the other non-genital types? I don't care about 'em.
            HIV = kinda biased, the country where I live in (Brazil) gives away the medication since they broke the patents and chug away low cost pills without paying royalties

            I don't know, but it's my opinion that a bomb ticking that you never know if/when it'll hit and take you or someone you love is much worse than some

            • Re:No way! (Score:4, Informative)

              by Electricity Likes Me ( 1098643 ) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @02:21AM (#37453116)

              Uh, the HPV vaccine IS for the types of HPV that cause cancer. That's the entire point of the vaccination program. It is not a cure for all possible types of cervical cancer (only ~60% of them) but the HPV strains it vaccinates against are those linked to cancer + some other common ones (to encourage men to get the vaccine too and thus promote herd immunity).

      • Actually maybe not so much. Then you will have to deal with even a faster rate of population growth. STDs in modern times seem to help to slow population growth in a crude way. Also people use more condoms and thereby reduce the rate of pregnancies. So you have a few factors at play.
      • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

        We had that in the '70s. It was awesome!

      • But then we're all going to burn in hell!
    • I know you're joking, but I really wouldn't put it past them. The world has seen greed turn a profit on suffering before, and I really wouldn't be surprised if something came about to hinder the development or application of a cure, if one is ever reached.
    • No problem: I've heard saunas and gay bath houses are hiring...
    • I realized in the early 90s, as soon as they announced a proper cure for HIV, there will be f**king in the streets. It is impossible to say how much of a stamp of fear AIDS has put on a lot of people. We will be heading for a free-love generation that made the 60s look like a bunch of tossers...
    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      This is just another Liberal plot by Obama to hurt the job creators!
  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @08:12PM (#37450988)

    The delta CCR5 mutation was already well known, and the subject of several (at least 4) different experimental receptor blocking and gene therapy medications, all of which were blocked by the FDA citing safety concerns.

    This is not meant to be a conspiracy theorist bottom feeding post, but simply intended to inform. There have been many studies of this mutation for thereputic uses conducted in Europe over the past decade, including seeveral promising phase 2 trials.

    Like most life saving medications though, any prospective cure for HIV will probably be developed in the US, and approved in Europe. (Then approved in the US after decades of routine use overseas.)

    While this particular gene therapy might be new, the mechanism is not novel.

    • by rabtech ( 223758 )

      I might point out that FDA rejection of thalidomide saved thousands of children from being born as flipper babies.

      There have been strong calls for informed participation in clinical trials, especially for terminally ill patients. The FDA has been very responsive as far as I am aware.

        I suggest not operating on rumor or whatever Fox News is peddling and check the facts for yourself. It isn't difficult.

      • There's a huge difference:
        • thalidomide was a medication intended to cure a trivial condition (morning sickness) with gruesome side-effects on a third party (the kid).
        • this new AIDS treatment is intended to cure a deadly disease, with side-effects that only affect the patient himself.

        So, it looks like the risk/reward relationship is slightly different in both cases, doesn't it...

        • But, at the end of the day, the methodology for demonstrating the effectiveness of the therapies is the same.

          This reminds of all that BS about multiple sclerosis vein theory, and all the M.S. lobby groups demanding governments pay for it and fast-track the research, despite the fact that dozens of researchers who were experts in M.S. were more than a little dubious and insisted that any potential therapy needs to be adequately tested. And now a bunch of quacks in Latin American countries offer it and lo an

      • He's not operating on rumor, he's absolutely correct. This type of thing happens all the time - a drug is developed in the US and approval is easily achieved in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, etc, and then it takes several more years to gain FDA approval. Most Phase 2 trials are performed in these countries because its just so much easier to get approval and then test it on the thousands of patients required to make the FDA happy.

        Before you go on about how noble the FDA is about saving lives, I suggest
        • Furthermore, if you want to blame high drug prices in the US on anything, this is the problem right here - the gross majority of employees in any big pharma company are responsible for some FDA requirement. On the upside, they do create a ton of jobs.

          Glass making is a far better job than filling out paper work. Also is far more exciting smashing the windows in the first place.

    • Like most life saving medications though, any prospective cure for HIV will probably be developed in the US, and approved in Europe. (Then approved in the US after decades of routine use overseas.)

      So, HIV is likely to be wiped out in Africa before the US?

    • cure for HIV will probably be developed in the US, and approved in Europe. (Then approved in the US after decades of routine use overseas.)

      Sounds like decades of free human testing to me...
  • Um, I don't think this is going to work for the masses, even if we can now do DNA sequencing for about 1/10th what it cost just two years ago, and we have protein folding solutions for HIV thanks to the work of the UW's Baker Lab and all you great volunteers.

    Look, the vast and overwhelming quantity of infections are in areas where not only are people very very poor (no, poorer than that, think a couple hundred dollars a year for a family), but they have 2-3 other major infectious diseases to cope with.


    • Although think about the purging of Polio and other 19th century diseases. I can't see a virus that has had this much impact on the world to not be very financially backed by donations and continued research to make the cure cheaper. If this was a lesser known disease, then I might say you were right, but HIV has been a different beast altogether.
      • Polio is back, actually, thanks to anti-immunization Saudi policies.

        I'm not saying it's not a good idea, but it is unlikely to provide solutions for the majority of our planet's infected and at-risk populations.

      • The diseases that catch the imagination aren't necessarily the bad ones. Breast cancer gets considerably more funding and attention than is justified when compared with the mortality rate and ability to treat it.

        • by rthille ( 8526 )

          That's because we really love boobies!

        • by Tim C ( 15259 )
          Ever think that the mortality rate is low because we have the ability to treat it purely because of the funding and attention that it gets?

          Besides which, having personally known two people to have suffered from and survived breast cancer (including a girlfriend at the time) I personally have no problem with focussing on it, especially as it in no way precludes others from focussing on other conditions.
        • And what was the mortality rate from breast cancer fifty years ago?

  • If this works, five bucks says within a decade there are hoards of twats screaming about all the 'hidden dangers' of the treatment that mainstream science doesn't want you to know and about how AIDS never killed anyone in the first place and claiming it was dropping before the cure. This will happen, especially if it involves gene therapy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by xstonedogx ( 814876 )

      You're completely forgetting the religious aspect. Only fornicators destined for hell are going to get AIDS. Clearly we need to bomb the free clinic.

      Also, it causes autism.

      • But ironically autism makes it harder to get HIV.

        • I assume you mean that the social awkwardness makes it harder to get laid. I actually once told a doctor that that was my "birth control plan". I suppose anti-STD plan too. (and if I do get lucky, condoms)

      • Don't worry. The procedure requires them to apply the gene therapy to stem cells before the transfusion. That will keep it illegal in the U.S. for at least 50 years.

        umbilical cord blood is a life!

  • It's posts like that this that make me really smile. Science -- the faithful and playful (but expensive) dog often blamed for farting during dinner even when it was one of the diners -- is responsible for directly raising someone's... and hopefully a lot more people's, over time... quality of life.

    I know what's going to happen, though. Some religious person/group will end up trying to take credit. People will say, "God cured him of his HIV"... well, no, the Delta CCR5 mutation cured him. Modern science cure

    • Jesus! It's not that I don't agree with you more or less, but why don't you and science get a room?

  • The survival rate of a bone marrow transplant is around 40% even in the best hospitals in the world. That he had leukemia (probably chronic myeloid leukemia since that's the most common one that's transplanted) and by happy chance the transplant worked and also by happy chance this cured his HIV is great news for him. However this is not going to be used as standard therapy at all, you have better luck taking the drug regimen. What it might do however (hopefully) is continue to push to improve transplant pr
    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      You might try reading the article.
      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
        From TFA:

        The transplant treatment itself, given only to late-stage cancer patients, kills up to 30% of patients.

        Good for them if they have such a low mortality. I still don't see it being used regularly with that mortality rate. You are going to kill 1/3 of your patients?

        • by rthille ( 8526 )

          No, the treatment they are working on is gene therapy, not the transplant that seems to have cured the man. They are related, but not the same.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      "The survival rate of a bone marrow transplant is around 40% even in the best hospitals in the world."

      The survival rate for people dying of nasty forms of leukemia who get a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor when they're already on death's door might be about 40%, but the procedure itself isn't nearly that dangerous. Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant has a mortality rate around 5% on average, and groups who specialize in it are getting quite a bit better than that. Presumably that

  • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Monday September 19, 2011 @08:30PM (#37451180)
    I thought South Park had definitively proven that Magic Johnson was able to cure his AIDS through all the money he's earned?
  • A recent story had news about gene therapy being used to cure 2 people of leukemia. The article described how they used an version of HIV to target the right blood cells. Now this article talks about curing HIV after having leukemia - it's a vicious circle!
  • And leukemia to cure HIV.

    (Yeah, that's actually completely wrong because the HIV was cured as a side-effect of the treatment against leukemia. Still, nicely circular.)


    So the cure for leukaemia is HIV, and the cure for HIV is leukaemia?
  • I dunno how much AIDS scares y’all, but I got a theory: the day they come out with a cure for AIDS, a guaranteed one-shot cure, on that day there’s gonna be fucking in the streets, man.
  • Big Pharma is just waiting until their patents on modified T cells are approved (which it will be). Bonus: they'll sue any marrow donor with this mutation for infringement.

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.