By: Justin Chen
What is HIV? What is AIDS?
AIDS stands for Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome. This is the final stage of HIV, and people at this stage of HIV disease have badly damaged immune systems.
How has AIDS affected our world?
Today, an estimated 42 million people live with HIV/AIDS. Sub-Saharan Africa in particular is the region of the world most affected. Nearly three-fourths of people living with HIV/AIDS are located in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2002, 3.1 million people had died of HIV/AIDS (2.4 million were in sub-Saharan Africa). The disease has already orphaned 12 million children in Africa and scientists predict that number could grow to a staggering 40 million by 2010.
Recent HIV/AIDS Success
For example, there has been a new method which uses so-called ‘‘molecular scissors’’ to cut the virus from the DNA of infected cells. Researchers have managed to manipulate the enzyme so that it can identify a particular sequence and remove it - and they say it is more than 90 percent effective in identifying the HIV virus this way. The theory is that the genetically altered immune cells would reproduce, cut the HIV out of infected cells, and as a result, enable them to function again. As of right now, the method works-- on mice.
And just a little while back, a young girl by the name of Emily survived from leukemia. After fighting for two years, Doctors suggested they sign Emily up to a clinical trial that would use a disabled form of HIV to carry cancer-fighting genes into her T-cells (disease fighting cells). The hope was that this would re-programm her immune system to recognize the cancer cells and start killing them. By re-engineering her T-cells, Emily experienced extremely fatal symptoms. Her parents were told that she had a 1 in 1,000 chance of surviving the night. Trial leader Dr Stephan Grupp and his team realised that the level of a certain protein had become very elevated as a result of the T-cells growing in Emily's body.
Doctors realized that the level of a certain protein had become very elevated as a result of the T-cells growing in Emily's body.
This same protein is involved in rheumatoid arthritis, and there is a drug for that disease that turns off production of that particular protein.
The team administered the drug to Emily, with dramatic results. Almost overnight, her breathing improved, her fever dropped and her blood pressure was back to normal.