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Friday, June 29, 2007

Advancing to a Cure for Cancer, HIV/AIDS

What a week it has certainly been for the medical field! While most were still blankly staring into the continued aftermath of the inanity of Paris Hilton finishing her jail sentence and claiming that it not only make a difference in her life, but that she wants it to make a difference in the lives of others and other Miss America contestant-like statements - scientists were working to actually MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Mid-week, there were reports of the workings of a current possible cure for cancer.

Yes, I said "cure for cancer"! Still thinking about Paris Hilton now?? It's a freakin' CURE FOR CANCER we're talking about now - you know, actual NEWS about something IMPORTANT! While "cure for cancer" may technically be jumping the gun, when this blogger sees an article saying that scientists have been working on a vaccine to cure cancer in dogs AND it's actually working AND it has the potential to help cure it in humans as well...

That's what I'd call a step in the right direction and it warrants the use of the phrase "cure for cancer" - dog, human or otherwise!

Coco is a 13-year-old Pomeranian with malignant melanoma and Callie, a seven-year-old golden retriever, has the same cancer. Tucson Veterinary Oncologist Mary Kay Klein has been treating both dogs with an experimental Canine Melanoma Vaccine. Dr. Klein says tests have gone so well that recently the vaccine was conditionally approved for commercial use in dogs.

"Dogs are very much like people. They tend to be the same age proportionately as you and I are when they get these diseases. The diseases look the same underneath the microscope," said Klein.

Right now only cancer vets are approved to use the dog vaccine. The next step is to make it available to all vets and work on a similar human treatment is in process.

If you think THAT is a reason to jump up on a table and sing the cheers for humankind and its prosperity - there's MORE.

I just read an article today that says that scientists have a potential cure for HIV. That's right - scientists have discovered a way to remove the virus from infected cells! While it's no cure for AIDS, which is a later stage of the HIV infection, if you can cure the HIV virus, you can cure AIDS before it even happens! Just think of the implecations if this potential cure makes it that last step to an ACTUAL cure that eventually gets approved by the FDA!

Never mind the potential capitalistic nature of drug companies and how they'll poorly handle the manufacturing and marketing and sales of the drug - we could freakin' CURE HIV AND AIDS!!

The scientists engineered an enzyme which attacks the DNA of the HIV virus and cuts it out of the infected cell. The enzyme is still far from being ready to use as a treatment, but it offers a glimmer of hope for the more than 40 million people infected worldwide.

"A customized enzyme that effectively excises integrated HIV-1 from infected cells in vitro might one day help to eradicate (the) virus from AIDS patients," wrote Alan Engelman, of Harvard University's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Current treatments focus on suppressing the HIV virus in order to delay the onset of AIDS and dramatically extend the life of infected patients. What makes HIV so deadly, however, is its ability to insert itself into the body's cells and force those cells to produce new infection. That enzyme was able to eliminate the HIV virus from infected human cells in about three months in the laboratory.

Okay, so the side effects are unknown thus far, and the method of using the enzyme needs to be further worked on before it can really be called a cure - but isn't this the biggest step forward we've had on the front against HIV and AIDS? Isn't this our largest push in a direction towards a cure? I say it's something to celebrate.

So earlier this week, a possible cure for cancer.

In today's news, a possible cure for HIV/AIDS.

Maybe this weekend we can finally get to work on cryogenics and subsequent immortality!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Facing the Challenges of HIV/AIDS

Around the world, more than 47 million people are now infected with the HIV/AIDS, It is now a weapon of mankind destruction. It has killed more than 30 million people worldwide according to UNAID and WHO reports since the 1st of December 1981 when it was first recognized. This makes it the worst recorded pandemic in the history of pandemics against mankind. In 2006 alone, it was reported to have killed between 2.5 to 3.5 million people with more than 380000 as children. The large number of these people killed is from the sub Saharan Africa. In some Sub-Saharan African countries, HIV/AIDS is expected to lower life expectancy by as much as 25 years.

AIDS is no longer a problem of medication. It is a problem of development. It is not just an individual hardship. It also threatens to decimate the future prospects of poor countries, wiping away years of hard-won improvements in development indicators. As a result of the disease, many poor countries are witnessing a worsening in child survival rates, reduced life expectancy, crumbling and over-burdened health care systems, the breakdown of family structures and the decimation of a generation in the prime of their working lives.

Bangladesh's socio-economic status, traditional social ills, cultural myths on sex and sexuality and a huge population of marginalised people make it extremely vulnerable to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Everyone buying sex in Bangladesh is having unprotected sex some of the time, and a large majority don’t use condoms most of the time. Behaviors that bring the highest risk of infection in Bangladesh are unprotected sex between sex workers and their clients, needle sharing and unprotected sex between men.

Though the country overall has a low prevalence rate, it has reported concentrated epidemics among vulnerable population such as IDUs. There are already localized epidemics within vulnerable groups in, and the virus would spread among the IDUs’ family or sexual partner. According to the social development specialist and AIDS researcher Mohammad Khairul Alam, “It should be realized that there is no alternative to develop and enhance life skills of vulnerable girls and women to cope with epidemic. They may be assisted on the various levels to become engaged in grooming their confidence and organized. At the same time, their voices should be allowed to be heard loud and clear. Thus the collective effort of women is born with the sense or purpose that they will be stirred up to share perceptions improving their access to reproductive health related information and services.”

In many poor countries, commercial female sex workers are frequently exposed to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs/STDs). Where sex workers have poor access to health care and HIV prevention services, HIV prevalence can be as high as 50-90%. Evidence shows that targeted prevention interventions in sex work settings can turn the pandemic around.

Bangladesh is a high prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases, particularly among commercial sex workers; there are available injection drug users and sex workers all over the country, low condom use in the general population. Considering the high prevalence of HIV risk factors among the Bangladeshi population, HIV prevention research is particularly important for Bangladesh. It is very awful, several organization in Bangladesh are working only to prevent HIV/AIDS but few of them like as ‘Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation’ try to develop proper strategic plane, so should increase research based organization recently.

Poverty in Bangladesh is a deeply entrenched and complex phenomenon. Sequentially, the HIV/AIDS epidemic amplifies and become deeper poverty by its serious economic impact on individuals, households and different sectors of the economy. Poverty is the reason why messages of prevention and control do not make an impact on a vast majority of the vulnerable population.

Sources: World Bank, UNAIDS, UNICEF.

Kh. Zahir Hossain
M & E Specialist (BWSPP)
The World Bank
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Mobile: 01711453171