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  #1    
Old January 26th, 2013, 07:45 AM
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Scientists working in a medical research facility in Australia say they may have discovered a therapy to potentially cure AIDS.

Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, led by Associate Professor Dr. David Harrich, say they have developed a form of gene therapy that turns the HIV protein against itself and ultimately stops it from replicating, according to the Australian Times.

The Queensland Institute backed the research and attached the following statement to a video interview of Harrich posted on Monday:
Associate Professor David Harrich has found a promising way of stopping HIV from causing AIDS. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is currently treated with a cocktail of drugs to stop the virus from causing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). But there is no cure or vaccine... His research has uncovered how to modify a crucial protein in the virus.

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Harrich himself notes that his research is not an HIV cure. "You would still be infected with HIV," he said, according to the Queensland Institute's statement. "But the virus would stay latent, it wouldn't wake up, so it wouldn't develop into AIDS. With a treatment like this, you would maintain a healthy immune system."

Harrich, who has been studying the virus since 1989, told the Times that his breakthrough came at a critical point in his research, as his funding was about to run out.

"I had my PhD student try one more experiment in late 2007. The experiment was to test if Nullbasic could render HIV non-infectious," Harrich said. (Harrich uses the term "Nullbasic" to refer to the proteins that allow HIV to mutate.) "The student came back and said it worked, so I told him to do it again and again and again. It works every time.”

Speaking with Australian media network ABC News, Harrich said he considers his discovery "fighting fire with fire."

"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," he told ABC.

Further testing needs to be done, of course, and Harrich said trials on animals will begin this year. If successful, Harrich's one treatment could replace more traditional, multiple drug therapies. Harrich remarked to ABC that these advances could give HIV patients a way "to go on and live happy and productive lives with as little intrusion as possible."

Harrich's paper is published in the current issue of Human Gene Therapy.

The official announcement of his advancement came just days ahead of a similar potential breakthrough heralded by researchers at Stanford University.

The Stanford discovery was published in Molecular Therapy on Tuesday and is related to the creation of HIV-resistant T-cells. According to a Stanford press release, the research "describes the use of a kind of molecular scissors to cut and paste a series of HIV-resistant genes into T-cells." The release went on to describe how the group achieved its results: "By inactivating a receptor gene and inserting additional anti-HIV genes, the virus was blocked from entering the cells, thus preventing it from destroying the immune system."


Riding the wave of scientific advancements threads, here's a big one. Basically, it takes part of the virus and re-purposes a protein to prevent the virus from replicating. You'd still have HIV, but it would be latent and your immune system would remain intact. Crazy stuff.

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  #2    
Old January 26th, 2013, 09:55 AM
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Holy crap, that's an achievement for sure. I find it interesting that they just take a protein of the virus and modify it, and that stops the whole deadly sequence. They should take time to see if future affects of the modified virus does anything, obviously, but this one hell of an achievement. Think of all the lives that can be saved...
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Old January 26th, 2013, 10:08 AM
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OHMAIGOSH!! I've been waiting forever for this day to come!! :D :D I have always dreamed of finding a cure of some sort to AIDS in the future. Looks like I won't have to find it anymore then! (Though I would have loved to find it ahaha.) You have no idea how happy this news makes me! I tip my hat to the researcher who discovered this amazing discovery. Really, this is the breakthrough in medical history!! :D
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Old January 26th, 2013, 10:22 AM
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Such an interesting discovery, but I'm also curious if a person can still get HIV from someone who used the cure to stop his/her HIV infection from replicating.
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Old January 26th, 2013, 10:40 AM
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I'm gonna be the downer here. It's not the first time we've heard about a new potential solution to AIDS, cancer, etc. and we still don't have a cure in sight.

I think it's good they're researching this. It seems like a promising approach to neutralize HIV and keep it from becoming AIDS. I think we need to do more research, give it more funding. But I'm just gonna hold my breath a little longer.
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Old January 26th, 2013, 10:47 AM
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It's great hearing that. I hope this stuff doesn't have any long term effects but it doesn't sound like it does. Now we just need to try it on humans and see if it really works.
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Old January 26th, 2013, 11:03 AM
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Agree with Pinkie-Dawn - I'm interested to know about the transmission if people take this treatment.
However, if this is the start to a new treatment then it's amazing news and such a breakthrough for the medical field :) Amazing!
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Old January 26th, 2013, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Scarf View Post
I'm gonna be the downer here. It's not the first time we've heard about a new potential solution to AIDS, cancer, etc. and we still don't have a cure in sight.

I think it's good they're researching this. It seems like a promising approach to neutralize HIV and keep it from becoming AIDS. I think we need to do more research, give it more funding. But I'm just gonna hold my breath a little longer.
This.

Interesting as this is, it's just another way in which we're able to try to stop HIV from replicating and, unfortunately, I can see two big drawbacks with it:

""But the virus would stay latent, it wouldn't wake up, so it wouldn't develop into AIDS. With a treatment like this, you would maintain a healthy immune system."" - most of the time people contract HIV without realising it and it's not for a fair while that it begins to make its mark. So I'd wonder how much of the time the virus is actually identified early enough for the treatment to make a difference. The second drawback lies in the nature of the therapy itself; the fact that it targets a protein in HIV (although, honestly, the article is kinda weirdly worded when it's talking about this Nullbasic thing - is it saying that the protein modified is called Nullbasic or what?) means that HIV can get around this via mutation. One of the current treatments for AIDS is a medication designed to inhibit an enzyme which helps HIV to assemble its DNA within a host cell but this is often rendered ineffective due to the ability of HIV to modify the structure of this enzyme via mutation. Honestly, I don't see a reason why it'd be unable to do the same thing here unless the protein targeted is one which cannot afford to undergo mutations or which simply isn't mutable, for whatever reason. Unless I'm really misunderstanding how this treatment works.

In any case though - it's a big step forward and I'll do some reading on this a bit later. If this really can stop HIV dead in all cases in a living organism rather than in a laboratory where the numbers of HIV particles are more limited then... damn, good work. But like Scarf here, I'm not holding my breath.
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Old January 26th, 2013, 03:32 PM
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At this stage it surprises me that supposed "incredible, life-changing breakthroughs" are still news-worthy. We've seen it time and time again - there are only so many times you can say "DON'T WORRY GUYS WE'VE GOT AIDS ALL SORTED NOW" before the public gets bored, surely?

Any potential breakthrough against a currently difficult to deal with disease is of course pleasant news, but I'd really rather the media wait until they're a bit more certain the discovery will actually help before they start publicising it. Half of the news about curing diseases these days is pretty much "well, we don't exactly know HOW it would cure cancer, but you never know!!!". I'm interested to see what comes of this (not that I'm an expert on medicine), but I'm certainly not getting my hopes up.
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Old January 27th, 2013, 10:45 AM
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I remember hearing about a scientist who gave a potential cure for AIDS to a guy and some few years later, the guy got back his immunity system back. But we never heard of it again.

And we got so much articles about people discovering cures for AIDS but do they actually work?
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Old January 27th, 2013, 01:58 PM
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I see this being a step in the right direction. No, it isn't a cure, it just stops the virus from working it seems. Im thinking people can still spread the virus to others, so it's important to infected people to remember this, also since HIV mutates, this might only be a short term solution, I wonder if they have researched whether it still works if the virus mutates, but I see this definately as a breakthrough.
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