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'Boston Patients' Still HIV Free After Quitting Antiretroviral Meds

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the 90s-dream-come-true dept.

Medicine 117

ananyo writes "Two men with HIV may have been cured after they received stem-cell transplants to treat the blood cancer lymphoma, their doctors announced today at the International AIDS Society Conference in Kuala Lumpur. One of the men received stem-cell transplants to replace his blood-cell-producing bone marrow about three years ago, and the other five years ago. Their regimens were similar to one used on Timothy Ray Brown, the 'Berlin patient' who has been living HIV-free for six years and is the only adult to have been declared cured of HIV. Last July, doctors announced that the two men — the 'Boston patients' — appeared to be living without detectable levels of HIV in their blood, but they were still taking antiretroviral medications at that time." The story reports that they have only been off of medication for seven and fifteen weeks and they won't know for a year, but signs are looking positive.

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Magic Johnson (3, Funny)

Andrio (2580551) | about a year ago | (#44175685)

The only real cure we have for this disease.

Re:Magic Johnson (2, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#44175983)

Actually, it wasn't Magic Johnson, but his massive pile of cash [wikia.com] .

Re:Magic Johnson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44181409)

*A* magic johnson.....

Re:Magic Johnson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177543)

No it won't; it's Magic!

Re:Magic Johnson (1)

OakDragon (885217) | about a year ago | (#44177995)

Reminds me of a story a friend told me from way back when Magic Johnson first told the world about his HIV. (And yes this is an extremely tasteless joke, but that's not the point.)

A joke was circulating that went like this:

"Hey, did you hear that David Copperfield got AIDS?"
"Wow, no... I didn't know..."
"Yep. Got it from doing Magic."

So my friend told this joke to a guy he works with. This guy wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed. My friend overheard him repeating the joke:

"Hey, did you hear that David Copperfield got AIDS?"
"Nope, I didn't know..."
"Yeah ... He was fucking Magic Johnson!"

Hey! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175687)

The story reports that they have only been off of medication for seven and fifteen weeks and they won't know for a year, but signs are looking positive.

Phrasing >=(

Re:Hey! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44178331)

They won't know for a year whether they've been off the medication for seven or fifteen weeks.

Duh.

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175703)

suck it

Men are Free... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175727)

...to butt fuck each other with impunity!

Re:Men are Free... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175811)

Good, because it's your turn next.

Re:Men are Free... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44176099)

What a fitting scene, there is audio of an announcement that HIV has now become reliably curable. The video shows a crescent earth in the distance. A slowly tumbling iron asteroid enters the frame from the right. The caption reads "YHWH is not mocked." Cue the soundtrack of "Pictor" by Robert Farnon.

Re:Men are Free... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44176619)

With Obamacare just around the corner...you are correct. We are ALL next.

Re:Men are Free... (1)

parkinglot777 (2563877) | about a year ago | (#44178375)

...to butt fuck each other with impunity!

With Obamacare just around the corner...you are correct. We are ALL next.

First, you (or the other AC) attempted to blame the whole situation on homosexual -- a myth that HIV is from homosexual. The HIV is also from heterosexual as well (especially prostitution) and is under radar. Please take the bias out of the context.

Then you are pulling politic into the topic; whereas, there is no relation to the topic at all. So both posts of AC are flame bait.

Now back to the topic, I believe that incubation period if HIV can be longer than 1 year -- http://www.healthalert.net/Dispelling_Misconceptions/?p=31 [healthalert.net] -- so they should not make a BIG news out of their experiment when only a couple months have passed. This is just to get publicity. What would happen if all the sudden it is no longer true (they found the HIV again on the patients)?

Re:Men are Free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44180721)

It's damned hard for a man to get HIV without giving oral sex, getting anal sex, or shared needles. HIV is a blood-bourne disease that we got from butchering monkeys.

And you're less likely to get it from a prostitute than you are from some drunk chick you pick up in a bar. Look up the stats.

Re:Men are Free... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44176659)

Oh, no.. God will punish us [rightwingwatch.org] with all his might [rightwingwatch.org] ...

Re:Men are Free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44179439)

Oh, no.. God will punish us [rightwingwatch.org] with all his might [rightwingwatch.org] ...

Fusta... Grow up a little, eh? Can you do that for us?

Re:Men are Free... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44179617)

Sure, reverend, whatever you say.

Re:Men are Free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44180621)

Republicans *ARE* our punishment...

Re:Men are Free... (2, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#44176875)

Though they mostly were before, HIV transmission through that route is still not that bad. Now, IV drug use, that is where it spreads like wildfire. In fact, there is some speculation that bad drug policy which drove people to IV drugs and then to share needles that actually caused the first wave of the AIDS epidemic.

http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_pisani_sex_drugs_and_hiv_let_s_get_rational_1.html [ted.com]

Re:Men are Free... (1)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#44178129)

More than speculation. You can look it up in the American Journal of Public Health. That's pretty much the conclusion of all the researchers in the field.

In New York City around 1985, half the AIDS cases were gay men, and the other half were IV drug users. The public health people were fighting with the Giuliani administration (mayor) and the Pataki administration (governor).

This was nothing new. It was well-known that many infections were spread by IVDUs re-using needles. Hepatitis C probably caused more deaths than AIDS. And yet these idiots kept making it illegal to possess clean needles. They used to say, "The risk of dirty needles will discourage people from using IV drugs." Yeah, think that one out for a second. That was like, "If people could get safe abortions, it would promote immorality."

Pataki claimed he couldn't support clean needles until his health commissioner, Barbara DeBuono, had reviewed the issue. DeBuono said she hadn't gotten around to reading the literature. DeBono finally lost her job when she got caught shoplifting. http://www.villagevoice.com/2002-10-08/news/pataki-s-sick-department-of-health/ [villagevoice.com]

signs are looking positive? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175731)

surely, signs are looking negative?

Re:signs are looking positive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175927)

We're quite positive that the negative result of this test positively shows a negative trend in the negative condition that therefore indicates a positive benefit for the patients.

Re:signs are looking positive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44176977)

Yes, but are you HIV positive ?

Re:signs are looking positive? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177189)

Lol

Gene Therapy (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44175753)

I remember recently there was some talk about research into curing some cancers by removing the patient's bone marrow, using HIV (ironically) to modify it, then transplanting that bone marrow back to the patient. What are the chances that something similar could be done here? To me it seems like all the pieces are in place; we know which gene confers some immunity, we are capable of editing targeted genes, and we can perform the bone marrow transplant. A marrow transplant would still be dangerous, but allotropic transplants are much less so since you get rid of the risk of graft vs host occurring.

Re:Gene Therapy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175963)

Chances are not to good really. There are several reason, but basically it's because of niggers.

Re:Gene Therapy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44176295)

using HIV (ironically) to modify it, then transplanting that bone marrow back to the patient

The movie you're thinking of is "I am Legend" and it was measles.

Summary misses a small detail. (4, Informative)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44175795)

There's a good chance this 'cure' will kill the patent. It works, but it's dangerous. The choice is between a treatment that may kill you now, or a disease that will kill you eventually. And either way you'll get to take lots and lots of drugs with nasty side effects.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (5, Insightful)

ddq (2421932) | about a year ago | (#44176033)

Life tends to kill you eventually.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44176845)

With "Life" I guess you mean another life form (bacteria, virus (though some haggle about if virus is life), a tiger), otherwise your statement make no scene.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44178397)

You knew exactly what he meant you obtuse imbecile.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44181817)

That's right, don't make a scene.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44177109)

What's the insightful point here? This sentiment has been historically been raised in conversations about HIV as an excuse to not care about a disease that primarily affects homosexuals. It's far rarer that people say "Oh, well everyone has to go sometime" when discussing cancer research. So apologies if you're not being callous towards homosexuals with HIV, and are instead just making a trite observation that everyone dies.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

ddq (2421932) | about a year ago | (#44177959)

Worldwide, HIV affects far more heterosexuals. While in developed countries, it is proportionally higher in homosexual men, almost 70% of people with HIV live in Sub-Saharan Africa. So if anything, I was being racist, not homophobic. (In reality, I was being neither, instead merely trite.)

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (5, Insightful)

SirGarlon (845873) | about a year ago | (#44176105)

Unless I'm mistaken, that's what they used to say about chemotherapy. Finding ways to help patients survive the therapy may be an easier problem than finding ways to help them survive the disease.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (5, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#44176893)

Marrow transplants are dangerous, and there's no obvious way to go about making them safer. The problems are a fundamental result of the procedure itself, not simply a side effect. First, you must kill off the patient's bone marrow, there's simply no way around it since the bone marrow is what is causing the problem you are trying to treat. The only ways we know how to do that are with near fatal doses of chemotherapy or radiation. Actually, the doses are fatal, if they do what they are supposed to do and the patient doesn't receive their transplant they will die (when you donate there is a time period after the patient has had their marrow destroyed but before you actually donate, if you change your mind and decide not to donate during that time period the patient will almost certainly die unless another donor can be found and medically cleared in a matter of days). Then there's a period of not days, but weeks where the patient has no functioning immune system to speak of, not to mention severely limited red blood cell production. Then there's graft vs host disease where the immune system rejects it's new host body, essentially like organ rejection except in this case it affects the entire body. Then there's liver and kidney damage (both from the chemo and/or radiation and as a result of the transplant itself) and increased risk of cancer (not related to the original cancer being treated).

And that's all assuming that a suitable match can be found, which isn't guaranteed. A non-ideal donor increases the risk of complications, especially graft vs host (but can actually reduce the risk of cancer relapse interestingly). Part of the reason a donor can't always be found is that there simply aren't enough people on the registry, largely because people have this notion that donation is an extremely painful process. This was true in the past, but most donors now donate peripheral stem cells, where a drug (filgrastim) is given for a few days and donation is done through vein in the arm.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about a year ago | (#44177399)

And why can't the patient be their own stem cell donor? Aside from re-inheriting their propensity for marrow cancer?

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44178053)

In this particular case, the AIDS bone marrow transplant "functional cure" depends on the marrow not producing a certain protein, SAMHD1, the lack of which "starves" HIV. However, only 3% of the population has this natural HIV immunity. And obviously, it's not going to be the case with the patient's original marrow.

above problems are fixable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177419)

one of my best friends is a biochem PhD who told me about this approach a few years ago but with a twist: he said they've isolated the sequence that causes the HIV resistance & that in a few yrs it should be possible to extract some of patients own marrow, splice it in, culture & replace. in theory you don't need to kill off patients own marrow as long as you can culture & inject enough to produce enough resistant T cells...

problem is even if (probably when) they solve the remaining technical problems it isn't scalable as a treatment & would likely only ever be affordable to the Magic Johnson class patients...

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

nbauman (624611) | about a year ago | (#44177607)

Another reason why donors can't be found is that during the genetic construction of HLA DNA, there is so much diversity that, if a sibling isn't available, your chances of finding a match are remote.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44178037)

Marrow transplants are dangerous, and there's no obvious way to go about making them safer. The problems are a fundamental result of the procedure itself, not simply a side effect. First, you must kill off the patient's bone marrow, there's simply no way around it since the bone marrow is what is causing the problem you are trying to treat. The only ways we know how to do that are with near fatal doses of chemotherapy or radiation. Actually, the doses are fatal, if they do what they are supposed to do and the patient doesn't receive their transplant they will die (when you donate there is a time period after the patient has had their marrow destroyed but before you actually donate, if you change your mind and decide not to donate during that time period the patient will almost certainly die unless another donor can be found and medically cleared in a matter of days). Then there's a period of not days, but weeks where the patient has no functioning immune system to speak of, not to mention severely limited red blood cell production. Then there's graft vs host disease where the immune system rejects it's new host body, essentially like organ rejection except in this case it affects the entire body. Then there's liver and kidney damage (both from the chemo and/or radiation and as a result of the transplant itself) and increased risk of cancer (not related to the original cancer being treated).

And that's all assuming that a suitable match can be found, which isn't guaranteed. A non-ideal donor increases the risk of complications, especially graft vs host (but can actually reduce the risk of cancer relapse interestingly). Part of the reason a donor can't always be found is that there simply aren't enough people on the registry, largely because people have this notion that donation is an extremely painful process. This was true in the past, but most donors now donate peripheral stem cells, where a drug (filgrastim) is given for a few days and donation is done through vein in the arm.

My brother-in-law is going through this right now, except he is acting as his own donor. They extracted some of his stem cells before the procedure, and have re-implanted them. He's in the immune system rebuild phase now.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#44178721)

(when you donate there is a time period after the patient has had their marrow destroyed but before you actually donate, if you change your mind and decide not to donate during that time period the patient will almost certainly die unless another donor can be found and medically cleared in a matter of days)

Umm, no.

Had this done last fall.

The Donor was donating before they started the chemotherapy on me. Until he'd provided enough stem cells, I just lay in the hospital bed getting nothing at all done....

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44183061)

You didn't RTFA did you?

Chemotherapy (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44177731)

Unless I'm mistaken, that's what they used to say about chemotherapy.

They still do. Chemotherapy is quite dangerous and even in the best cases is pretty brutal on the patient. I've had the misfortune to see several people close to me go through chemo and it is an awful treatment with no guarantee of success. In some cases the chemo itself can be lethal.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44176209)

This isn't a cure for the desease, this is two instances of people being cured, which could potentially lead to a cure without serious side effects (othat than those of genetic manipulation).

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44176359)

Before the invention of the rat bastards at the AMA, it was said that with allopathic medicine you died of the cure, while with naturopathic medicine you died of the disease. IOW this has been a known quandary in medicine since long before you noticed. Cutting out a cancer might kill a patient, or they might live out the rest of a nice lifespan. Etc.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#44176591)

What! You mean people have to way risks? This is terrible the government should step in and decide what to do.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

zennyboy (1002544) | about a year ago | (#44176807)

*weigh?

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#44176881)

Yes it should, because people are utterly terrible at weighing risks for themselves.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year ago | (#44177207)

Look, it's our old friend Tyranny, dressed in "I am better able to judge than you" clothes this time.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#44177431)

Looks like the same old garb to me. Dictators, monarchs, and bureaucrats have always promoted themselves as making better decisions for the good of their people. The key lies in the definition of "better". Tyrants adopt a policy that benefits themselves most, when what's needed is a policy that benefits everyone.

The existence of faults in a government does not mean it's worse than letting each person make indepentently bad decisions.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44176933)

Just to clarify what parent is saying, it is not just possible that it will kill you, it is probable. Most people who receive bone marrow transplants die from the process. Other treatments may have a chance of killing people, but this goes far beyond normal risk.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#44177311)

There's a good chance this 'cure' will kill the patent. It works, but it's dangerous. The choice is between a treatment that may kill you now, or a disease that will kill you eventually

It's a bit more complex than that, according to the article:

1. "The finding is very important for people with HIV who also need blood-cell transplants, but the treatment is unlikely to be used more generally because the risks from [allogeneic] transplants are high."
2. "Their doctors think that an immune response called graft-versus-host disease — a post-transplant reaction in which donated cells kill off a patient’s own cells — may have then wiped out the patients’ HIV reservoirs, potentially curing the men."

For everybody with HIV and some other medical condition that requires allogeneic stem cell transplants, this should be a pure win-situation as there is no added risk.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177615)

Except that the "cure" only works when you can find a suitable donor with the special mutation that makes their t-cells essentially immune to HIV infection. This same mutation provided protection against the black plague and is therefor enriched in people of European descent, but is still quite rare.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177871)

Reading comprehension fail. The article says these donors did NOT have the mutation. My bad.

Re:Summary misses a small detail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44182603)

What the fuck is the actual point you're trying to make? Invasive medical procedures are dangerous...? You don't say.

Define "good chance." Every patient I know of this being tried on has not only survived, but some even cured.

People have died on the table while getting breast implants. So, I think the risk:reward matrix for attempting to cure yourself of AIDS is worth the trouble.

There's finally more money in the cure.... (-1, Troll)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year ago | (#44175847)

The funny thing about medicine... as long as there's money to be made in selling the treatment you can be sure there won't be a cure. The treatment will always follow the bigger money.

A patient of chemo for cancer will take many thousands of dollars each year to combat their disease, so this is where cancer treatment seems to have stalled out in the US.

The "AIDS cocktail" has become quite inexpensive and costs a few bucks a week (until you get insurance numbers involved) so it's no surprising to see a more expensive treatment appear. A Stem Cell Transplant is a cash cow, with related costs adding up to $150-300k USD.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175975)

Except the stem cell treatment in this case was for cancer.

But don't let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175977)

Risks of a bone marrow transplant make it *very* unfavourable as a treatment for HIV in most cases. Fancy cutting off your foot to cure that veruca?

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (3, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year ago | (#44176491)

From an historical perspective: Covered wagon travel has become quite inexpensive, and costs a few bucks for a team of oxen, so it's not surprising to see a more expensive means of travel appear. A steam locomotive is a cash cow, with related costs adding up $15-30 USD.

Of course stem cell transplants are expensive now, but having a clear road ahead for AIDS treatment opens the door to future optimization and improvement. As the technique matures, it will become routine enough that the cutting-edge treatments you read about on Slashdot will indeed continue to be expensive replacements for current technologies, and those technologies will themselves become cheaper as they mature. Of course, as the cures mature and become part of every doctor's toolbox, the general public, including yourself, will cease to pay any attention to their dropping costs or minor improvements.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a year ago | (#44176753)

as long as there's money to be made in selling the treatment you can be sure there won't be a cure.

Such as with smallpox and rinderpest, right? Might as well include polio on the list as well since except for some pockets in Afghanistan and Pakistan, thanks to the Taliban and their distrust of modern medicine (like you apparently), polio is essentially gone from this planet.

Just think how much money these companies have lost by finding a cure for these afflictions rather than just treating them. Potentially hundreds of billions of dollars. How horrible that they found a cheap cure rather than sticking it to people with high priced treatments.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (4, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#44177433)

The cures for pandemics have never been a product of corporate research... They are always the product of government funded or subsidized research.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44178315)

The cures for pandemics have never been a product of corporate research... They are always the product of government funded or subsidized research.

... and who do you think the government is funding or subsidizing? Oh! That's right, the corporate research facilities.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (1)

hawkfish (8978) | about a year ago | (#44178909)

The cures for pandemics have never been a product of corporate research... They are always the product of government funded or subsidized research.

... and who do you think the government is funding or subsidizing? Oh! That's right, the corporate research facilities.

Not in Europe or other civilised places. In civilised countries, public health is studied by public research institutions at public universities.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (1)

the gnat (153162) | about a year ago | (#44179249)

Not in Europe or other civilised places. In civilised countries, public health is studied by public research institutions at public universities.

We do this in America too - perhaps you've heard of the National Institutes of Health? But ultimately the actual drugs are made by private companies in most places, Europe included, because drug development is such a shitty business that most governments would (wisely) prefer to let someone else deal with it.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#44179191)

Mostly universities.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (1)

the gnat (153162) | about a year ago | (#44179193)

The cures for pandemics have never been a product of corporate research

Except that, to the extent that HIV is now largely survivable for those with access to the drugs, AIDS was cured by corporate R&D (aided, of course, by a lot of government-subsidized academic basic research). You can split hairs over whether protease inhibitor cocktails count as a "cure", but if you actually RTFA, maybe you'd understand why the pharma companies concentrated on making simpler treatments. Bone marrow transplants for every AIDS patient in the world is not a trivial matter.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (5, Informative)

the gnat (153162) | about a year ago | (#44177023)

A patient of chemo for cancer will take many thousands of dollars each year to combat their disease, so this is where cancer treatment seems to have stalled out in the US.

Or maybe it's because treating cancer is insanely fucking difficult, because it isn't actually one disease but hundreds or thousands of different cellular regulation disorders which simply happen to have broadly similar effects, because really weeding out every last tumor cell would require therapies so drastic that they'd be likely to kill the patient, and because many cancers tend to evolve drug resistance over time. The costs of cancer go way beyond prescriptions for a few name-brand drugs (which aren't even available for everything); they include older therapies, hospitalization, and surgery. Insurance companies would save multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars per patient if there was a magic drug that cured cancer, and would happily pay a large amount for such a drug, so it's not like there's no profit to be had.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (0)

benjfowler (239527) | about a year ago | (#44177233)

The solution is easy. Remove the profit motive, and base all medical research and treatment on clinical need, not profit.

Isn't it interesting that "statist" national healthcare systems, pharmaceutical patent busting, publicly-funded medical research etc, has was, WAY better outcomes than the joke privatized hell that passes for a healthcare system in America?

What you get in America, is expensive gold-plated crap for the Worried Well, and dick pills and statins for rich old men too irresponsible to look after themselves. Meanwhile, half the developing world is dying of preventable disease, because Big Pharma and their warped priorities don't see any profit in it.

Free ride on US research (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44178093)

Isn't it interesting that "statist" national healthcare systems, pharmaceutical patent busting, publicly-funded medical research etc, has was, WAY better outcomes than the joke privatized hell that passes for a healthcare system in America?

In no small part those results are due to those state managed health care systems getting a free ride on the back of research conducted by US companies. 12 of the top 20 medical device companies are based in the US. The US spends about $140 billion on medical research each year (roughly half from industry, a third from government and the rest from various philanthropic organizations) and much of the rest of the world gets to avoid this cost. It's much easier and cheaper to wait for someone else to figure out the cure and then just copy it.

While I'm not going to defend the flaws in the US healthcare system (which you rightly point out are many), part of the reason is because the US is paying the much of the cost of all the research everyone else gets to enjoy.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (1)

the gnat (153162) | about a year ago | (#44179099)

Isn't it interesting that "statist" national healthcare systems, pharmaceutical patent busting, publicly-funded medical research etc, has was, WAY better outcomes than the joke privatized hell that passes for a healthcare system in America?

We have publicly-funded medical research in America too. In fact, it dwarfs most other countries, both in terms of money and productivity. The problem is that this research doesn't automatically lead to cures - developing new therapies is still extraordinarily expensive and slow. There have been many solutions proposed for this, but it's hard to point to an example where massive government spending magically solves the problem. It's also worth pointing out that the treatment covered in this article was done in the US, at a Harvard-associated hospital, and I would be surprised if NIH funding was not involved.

Aside from the research, I think you're also misunderstanding the nature of other first-world healthcare systems. The NHS in Britain is towards one extreme, where not only the insurance but most of the hospitals are state-run, but on the other end, there are plenty of countries with essentially private healthcare (providers and insurers) not so dissimilar from America's. What they have in common is effective universal coverage and far more government regulation of insurance than in the US. But it is not simply a matter of the government nationalizing the entire system, despite what ideologues on both the left and the right would claim.

What you get in America, is expensive gold-plated crap for the Worried Well, and dick pills and statins for rich old men too irresponsible to look after themselves. Meanwhile, half the developing world is dying of preventable disease, because Big Pharma and their warped priorities don't see any profit in it.

So what's your solution? The American government isn't going to step in and cure all those diseases in the developing world, because the taxpayers don't want their government pouring billions into TB and malaria research instead of the diseases that they personally have. On the other hand, Bill Gates is now using his (ill-earned) billions to fight these diseases.

Re:There's finally more money in the cure.... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about a year ago | (#44178919)

A patient of chemo for cancer will take many thousands of dollars each year to combat their disease, so this is where cancer treatment seems to have stalled out in the US.

I had CLL. I received chemotherapy twice in three years.

Doctor decided that a bone marrow transplant was worth the risk, since I was going to run out of chemo options really quickly at that rate.

So, had allogenic stem cell transplant. Donor was almost a perfect match (he had a virus that I'd never been exposed to, but otherwise perfect).

No longer have CLL (yes, they check regularly, and will do so for a long time to come).

So, no, cancer treatment hasn't "stalled out" in the USA. It's progress is just...spotty. Some forms of cancer are easier to deal with than others, and some forms of treatment are becoming safer than they used to be....

P.S. Oh, and if you want to do something vaguely worthwhile, try donating bone marrow/stem cells - http://bethematch.org/ [bethematch.org] . You might just save a life....

"signs are looking positive." (1)

ledow (319597) | about a year ago | (#44175885)

"signs are looking positive."

I hope not. Wouldn't that rather spoil the point?

of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44175955)

now that this gen-X'er is old and married we have 20-minute at-home HIV tests and a cure is in sight

'Boston patients'? (-1, Flamebait)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44176031)

'Boston Patients' Still HIV Free After Quitting Antiretroviral Meds

Is this something to do with a "Boston Marrige"? I thought we'd moved on.

Not a miracle? (0)

morcego (260031) | about a year ago | (#44176107)

I wonder when some church is going to claim their did it.
And another will claim these people are no longer human.

Re:Not a miracle? (1, Offtopic)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44176381)

I wonder when some church is going to claim their did it.
And another will claim these people are no longer human.

Well, on the plus side, if it makes you not human, then the bible doesn't apply to you as you're no longer one of god's creatures. Cavort!

Re:Not a miracle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177049)

Dogs are not human, but they are still God's creatures. They simply don't have to follow the rules people do. So you're 1/2 right, 1/2 idiot.

Re:Not a miracle? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44182799)

Dogs are not human, but they are still God's creatures. They simply don't have to follow the rules people do. So you're 1/2 right, 1/2 idiot.

If you're taking this thread seriously, you're all idiot.

Stem cells (1)

Larry_Dillon (20347) | about a year ago | (#44176609)

Are these the same stem cells that the Christian Right was trying to ban for research?

Re:Stem cells (4, Informative)

Petron (1771156) | about a year ago | (#44176781)

Appears to come from modifying adult blood-forming stem cells. Adult stem cells have little to no controversy.

Re:Stem cells (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#44176847)

Are these the same stem cells that the Christian Right was trying to ban for research?

Not that I approve of the Christian Right, but I don't think so. These are bone marrow transplants that give blood stem cells from an adult donor. I think that the Christian Right are only against embryonic stem cell research

Re:Stem cells (2)

Petron (1771156) | about a year ago | (#44177495)

Yes, the thing that comes to mind is: Would a doctor encourage abortion more if they can harvest embryonic stems cells... or would they fertilize eggs and have them grow in the lab to be harvested later. If you view life beginning at conception (which many people do, not just Christians), this would be a huge ethically questionable act.

Re:Stem cells (1)

the gnat (153162) | about a year ago | (#44177073)

No, these are transplants from bone marrow donors - no embryos or cloning involved.

Re:Stem cells (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44178231)

No, the ones they are trying to ban come from killing humans while they are in their fetal or embryonic stage.

correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44176699)

re: "blood cancer lymphoma"

Leukemia is a blood cancer.
Lymphoma is, like the name suggests, lymphic system.

Does anyone know. (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year ago | (#44176827)

The previous "cure" was following a bone marrow transplant from someone with a mutation that made them highly resistant to HIV [nature.com] . This article makes it sound as though it was the transplant itself that cured the HIV. Does anyone know if these transplants also involved a resistant donor?

Re:Does anyone know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177673)

The article mentions the mutation.

Re:Does anyone know. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177767)

Oops, I missed the part where it said these donors did NOT have the mutation. My bad.

the "mystery reservoir" must be marrow then (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#44177101)

HIV levels go to undetectable in many HIV-drug patients, then reappear once off the drugs even if they have taken them over a decade. It was postulated there was a mystery resevoir for the virus. And/or it integrated into the victims DNA.

Re:the "mystery reservoir" must be marrow then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177273)

postulated there was a mystery resevoir for the virus. And/or it integrated into the victims DNA.

O_O

is this science on slashdot?

Re:the "mystery reservoir" must be marrow then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44177357)

There is a latent resevoir of T cells that have HIV integrated into their genomes. These T cells can hang out for decades undetected. When the T cells get activated, the HIV becomes active and can spread to other T cells, thus initiating another round of infection.

Re:the "mystery reservoir" must be marrow then (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44178501)

"HIV levels go to undetectable in many HIV-drug patients, then reappear once off the drugs even if they have taken them over a decade. It was postulated there was a mystery resevoir for the virus. And/or it integrated into the victims DNA."

AIDS is a syndrome of immune collapse that has multiple causes, HIV doesnt cause AIDS it's an opportunistic infection that is closely associated because it cant even survive inside a human body that isnt compromised. Massive doses of dangerous drugs can be used to destroy the HIV but that doesnt address the underlying problem, so it's natural to expect them to come back at some point.

Of course none of this is nearly as useful for making money as the HIV=AIDS myth, so you arent likely to hear it from mainstream sources.

Re:the "mystery reservoir" must be marrow then (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44181493)

.... And out comes the tard brigade.

orly? (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#44177359)

"but signs are looking positive" I think they mean signs are looking negative, lol.

Do the drugs matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44178491)

I wonder if the specific drugs used in the SCT conditioning regimen matter? The Berlin patient, AFAIK, received BEAM (carmustine, etoposide, melphalan and, significantly, cytarabine/ARA-C). ARA-C is antiviral in addition to cytotoxic - I wonder if the massive doses of ARA-C reduced the viral load enough that the graft-vs-host effect and immune reconstitution obliterated the rest of the HIV infection?

Other options (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44180581)

I would like to live for 10,000 years. I wonder if Stemcell transplant options could mkae that a possibility.

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