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Researchers Discover Gene That Blocks HIV

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the i'm-pretty-good-at-giving-people-bad-news dept.

Medicine 333

stemceller writes to tell us that a team of researchers at the University of Alberta claims to have discovered a gene capable of blocking HIV thereby preventing the onset of full blown AIDS. "Stephen Barr, a molecular virologist in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, says his team has identified a gene called TRIM22 that can block HIV infection in a cell culture by preventing the assembly of the virus. 'When we put this gene in cells, it prevents the assembly of the HIV virus," said Barr, a postdoctoral fellow. "This means the virus cannot get out of the cells to infect other cells, thereby blocking the spread of the virus.'"

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333 comments

Holy crap! (4, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611298)

Does anyone know if gene therapy has progressed far enough to actually apply this to cell DNA? Is this actually a real cure for AIDS?

Re:Holy crap! (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611310)

Does anyone know if gene therapy has progressed far enough to actually apply this to cell DNA? Is this actually a real cure for AIDS

Sure. They just use a mostly-dead other virus to permanently change your genetic code. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

Re:Holy crap! (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611398)

Sure. They just use a mostly-dead other virus to permanently change your genetic code. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
If it was all dead, we could go through its pockets for spare change.

Re:Holy crap! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611496)

We are ages away from confidently using splicer viruses to make genetic changes in active cells without the body rejecting itself before the changes are complete.

Unless something is discovered that turns everything we know now on its head, which is always a possibility, but currently...i wouldn't even expect that in my great grandchildrens time.

Re:Holy crap! (0, Redundant)

Yocto Yotta (840665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611608)

I say we just create other "products" that make less dramatic changes to your cell structure and immune system that prepare your body for the heavy duty HIV-blocker bomb. 10 easy trips to the doctor, $129.99. Maybe they can throw in some other cell altering stuff along the way, where's my immortality?

Re:Holy crap! (3, Informative)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611636)

So in other words unless we progress in this field... we won't progress in this field? How insightful. Good job mods.

Re:Holy crap! (5, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611826)

*sigh* he's saying that this is one thing we might change on the program. A patch for the human code, say.

We only have a small problem ... the program is stored in a few trillion copies (all of which need to be changed), of extremely complex molecules (which we can't reliable modify (we can't even reliably read them) even when we have only 1 outside of the body).

Let's say it's this way. We have a patch for a flaw in your windows. Except it's on paper. And the computers won't boot until the patch is applied, so we need to take out the hard drive and *manually* change the bits on it. We have an electron microscope that *sometimes* has been used to change some random bits on the harddrive, which has once or twice resulted in a "mostly" correct change. Oh yes, and we have a billion computers, all of which still need to be operational after the change.

That's where we are. We know what to change (or so we hope), it's just ... "a bit" hard to get to the bits.

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611684)

So, you're saying the only way to prevent what amounts to an immune system shutdown would mean people would need to essentially do the same thing with rejection drugs? Damn. At least AIDS doesn't bind me to a schedule.

Re:Holy crap! (5, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611760)

Fortunately, we also know of a virus which suppresses the immune system...

Re:Holy crap! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611498)

Does anyone know if gene therapy has progressed far enough to actually apply this to cell DNA? Is this actually a real cure for AIDS

Sure. They just use a mostly-dead other virus to permanently change your genetic code. Nothing could possibly go wrong.
No. Grinding up HIVs for cell receptor antibodies is almost useless because any cell that has a CD4 receptor can be attacked by the HIV anyways. This is sort of like giving your generals the battle plans (the T helper cells ready to make antibodies). HIV then kills the generals before the battle plan can be implemented.

Re:Holy crap! (2, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611504)

Well how much more wrong can it get than AIDs? I mean, what could happen, it kills you a little faster? If they have even 50/50 survival/success rate people will line up for this.

Re:Holy crap! (5, Insightful)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611548)

Believe me or not, but there /are/ things that are worse than death...

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611630)

Negative karma?

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611892)

You mean like a stubbed toe or a bad haircut? After you stop functioning, you're not in much of a position to say something sucks (perhaps the event before did). Though, looking at your UID, I'm going to assume you're a theologian (or at least an angsty teenager), so ignore the previous statement and instead tell me how autoimmune rejection is worse than an eternity of burning and all that stuff. (Though, it might be if you believe in reincarnation.) More on-topic, how is autoimmune rejection worse than getting countless infections at the same time because your immune system is gone? If it doesn't work, the worst that could happen is you'll either die or end up on immunosuppressants and end up in the same boat as the people with AIDS.

But believe what you will, drama queen.

Re:Holy crap! (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611680)

Well how much more wrong can it get than AIDs?

They're talking about a means by which you can avoid having the virus set in in the first place, by preventing it from being able to replicate. This would be something you'd do to yourself, genetically, before you are even exposed to HIV. If you don't already HAVE the virus, and don't do the things that, for most people, are what increase your odds of getting the virus, perhaps you wouldn't want your DNA messed with? That's the sort of thing to examine. Risk/cost/benefit.

Re:Holy crap! (5, Informative)

mckniffen (983873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611324)

That research lab at Alberta is know for releasing under-researched findings before complete testing is applied. I also want to point out that it would be near impossible to make anything but a vaccine out of this discovery. So people already having aids with be out of luck, regardless of what TFA says.

Re:Holy crap! (2, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611430)

So people already having aids with be out of luck, regardless of what TFA says.

Very true. Unfortunately, the mechanisms of full-blown AIDS run too deep, so that even expelling AIDS would still leave the body in a likely incurable state. Still, that would certainly prolong the lives of those diagnosed with AIDS, so it's still a worthy cause.

Re:Holy crap! (5, Insightful)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611436)

Oh, I see. So making a vaccine which can help protect the 99.4% of humanity that is not infected is not nearly as exciting as a cure for the 0.6% of humanity living with HIV?

Re:Holy crap! (5, Insightful)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611474)

No one is understating the importance of a vaccine, and should one be developed it will be a day to celebrate. However, a cure would be more exciting.

Why ?

Because a cure will "save" the 0.6% of the population AND leave the remaining 99.4% of the population with the peace of mind of knowing that in the unfortunate event that they do contract HIV they are not completely fsck'd.

Of course the best scenario would be both a vaccine and a cure.

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611858)

Seriously, our hope is a vaccine. There are very few drugs in existence that can reduce the effects of viruses and none that totally cure them. (They just help the infection run it's course more quickly, or partially disable a virus so your body can deal with it more easily.) For HIV there is no way to help your body along because the virus attacks those cells that are trying to help.

A vaccine would be awesome, but I really doubt this study is valid.

Re:Holy crap! (4, Interesting)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611570)

That's nothing new to the industry - I was watching an old Horizon documentary from the 1980's on genetic research - one of the interviewed researched stated that "Every time there is a new discovery in genetic research, there is always the assumption that this is the final piece of the jigsaw put into place. Invariably this is proved to be not the case." There is always another receptor/gene/protein found that has a moderating effect on whatever interaction is being studied.

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611588)

That research lab at Alberta is know for releasing under-researched findings before complete testing is applied.

Or more precisely, you have no clue how research is done and you're just talking out of your ass. The discovery being described is profound, important, and worthy of note. And it is ONLY a discovery of what is described, namely that they have discovered a gene which blocks HIV. In no place are they announcing a treatment-level cure for AIDS. In the real world of research, there is a lot of work involved to bring new understanding to the level of a new application.

nonsense (1)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611600)

I also want to point out that it would be near impossible to make anything but a vaccine out of this discovery.

That's nonsense. If you knew anything about vaccines, you'd know that it's pretty much impossible to make a vaccine out of this discovery. But it might lead to a treatment.

Re:Holy crap! (3, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611622)

That research lab at Alberta is know for releasing under-researched findings before complete testing is applied.
Is it? The parent is "insightful" for making unsubstantiated accusations of acodemic impropriety with their research, yet provides no links or another kind of support, yet it's "insightful"?

How to filter low impact science (4, Insightful)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611698)

I'm always suspicious whenever I see ostensibly "high-impact" summaries that link to press releases of work that is either unpublished or published in low impact journals. In this case, I haven't looked up the impact factor of the journal PLoS pathogens (article [plospathogens.org] ), but I do biophysics research on HIV and I've never heard of this journal. As a useful general rule, science articles shouldn't appear on here (and waste everyone's time) unless they've been submitted through a peer-reviewed journal (not the case here), and I think they should hit high-impact journals like Science, Nature, Cell, PNAS, ...

Re:How to filter low impact science (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611862)

I understand your concern, but the value of the science doesn't depend on the journal it's submitted to and probably shouldn't be evaluated as such.

Re:Holy crap! (1, Informative)

davou (1239500) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611344)

woah woah, calm down brian. Its definitely good, and big news, but from what I've read so far they've only identified the gene... I'm sure there are all sorts of dangers involved with activating vestigial parts of our DNA. I say we wait for more scientific authority (note that the story is about reasearch at U-Alberta and hosted by U-Alberta. My vote: we keep wearing condoms for a while...

Premature Congratulations (5, Informative)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611350)

There are a lot of things that block HIV in cell culture.

Yet after literally hundreds of millions in financing, there isn't yet any real curative treatment. Why? Because HIV is a retrovirus with one of the worst polymerases known. It's just so bad at copying itself, that any treatment applied in-vivo acts only as a selective pressure.

Same is the case for HIV vaccines - even though there ARE conserved regions of the virus, they aren't very good targets, and the ones that are good targets are too antigenically fluid to be targeted.

In the end, my opinion as a virologist is that stopping the spread of HIV, and continuing to develop a larger palette of inhibitors are the proper solutions to the HIV problem. If we treat the people who have been infected, and don't infect any more... HIV will not be a problem after 2 generations.

Re:Premature Congratulations (4, Interesting)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611590)

In the end, my opinion as a virologist is that stopping the spread of HIV, and continuing to develop a larger palette of inhibitors are the proper solutions to the HIV problem. If we treat the people who have been infected, and don't infect any more... HIV will not be a problem after 2 generations.


You'd be a good person to ask this one of, then.... is there any truth to the theory that over time, humans will develop a natural immunity to HIV in the same way that cats have largely developped immunity to Feline Leukemia and FIV?

Re:Premature Congratulations (5, Informative)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611638)

It's possible... but ironically it's likely to happen if Africa continues to receive inadequate quantities of drugs. You see, evolution only works this way, when the mutations you're looking for provide a reproductive advantage. If we can treat HIV-infected patients in such a way that allows them to successfully reproduce (and modern medications taken appropriately already do), then there is no selective pressure for such a resistance to develop. Even if a minor selective pressure does exist, it's not significant enough to cause a shift in dominant genes rapidly enough to provide us with natural immunity before our knowledge of biology will surpass the ability of HIV to fight back.

Re:Premature Congratulations (1)

Paltin (983254) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611802)

There are already documented alleles in humans that give varying degrees of resistance to HIV. One of these is CCR5 delta 32; this specific allele is widespread in Europe, and while giving some resistance to HIV. This allele affects the CCR5 coreceptor on the cell walls, and helps mediate entry into cells. It is suspected that CCR5 delta 32 is widespread due to selective pressure caused by smallpox (or possibly black plaque)! There have also been recent discoveries of Africans with no evidence of HIV infection despite high-risk behaviors (IE, prostitution). The logical conclusion is that the population will eventually evolve to be immune to HIV. This will take many generations. Before that happens, scientists may find a cure and stop evolution in its tracks.

Re:Premature Congratulations (2, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611602)

In the end, my opinion as a virologist is that stopping the spread of HIV, and continuing to develop a larger palette of inhibitors are the proper solutions to the HIV problem. If we treat the people who have been infected, and don't infect any more... HIV will not be a problem after 2 generations.
Good luck implementing that plan in Africa.
Even with US & UN aids money they can't afford to provide, to everyone, the generics made by countries that have broken US pharma patents.

Re:Premature Congratulations (0)

John3 (85454) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611714)

Good luck implementing that plan in Africa.
Even with US & UN aids money they can't afford to provide, to everyone, the generics made by countries that have broken US pharma patents.
So true, especially with the current US administration's emphasis on abstinence. They aren't providing enough condoms, so why would one expect them to provide a vaccine that would only encourage promiscuity? I've read that overall funding is up under the GW Bush administration, but they have attached so many moral pronouncements that they weaken the effectiveness of the campaign.

mnb Re:Premature Congratulations (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611748)

I dislike GWB as much (if not more) than the next person, but which is better?
A larger but weaker campaign? (Bush)
A smaller but stronger campaign? (Clinton)
Of course the answer is "C" - a larger and unhandicapped campaign - and hopefully in twelve months we'll see one.

Re:Premature Congratulations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611780)

True, true. But I doubt grandparent considers that likely to happen either. His statement is true for any infectious disease that targets only humans: prevent those that have the disease from infecting others and the problem will solve itself in a hundred years. The tricky part would be tracking down every single human with the disease, and getting them to cooperate...

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611390)

There are lots of things that can do this. Bleach kills HIV too but the side effects are somewhat unpleasant.

Especially with DNA gene therapy the side effects can be unpredictable.

There is still a long road ahead to prove this method in live subjects and in all probability it will fail like the countless others before it. Such is the life of a research scientist.

Re:Holy crap! (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611400)

Gene therapy has been struggling for years to produce a reliable and safe solution. It has been marred by deadly side effects and unfortunate personal troubles of the leading scientist in that field [wikipedia.org] . A friend of mine worked in one of the start ups around the millennium switch time.

Re:Holy crap! (4, Insightful)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611414)

No, It is not even potentially a cure for AIDS. It does look like it might offer a route for immunization, or at least increased resistance. This would still be an incredible breakthrough, but it is important to keep perspective on what the realities are.

Always Remember: AIDS is Deadly. It is not a "chronic condition." It is a death sentence, maybe it'll take 5, even 10 years to kill some small group of victims, for many it is as few as 6-24 months. Way, way to many young people somehow manage to remain ignorant of this.

Re:Holy crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611442)

"Always Remember: AIDS is Deadly. It is not a "chronic condition." It is a death sentence, maybe it'll take 5, even 10 years to kill some small group of victims, for many it is as few as 6-24 months. Way, way to many young people somehow manage to remain ignorant of this."

Nice try. Funny how we have so many 'survivors' who are "living with AIDS" into old age... (Those who don't take the 'medications', in other words...) You know nothing about this subject, and are spouting the same old party lies...

"for many it is as few as 6-24 months" - yes, if they take the 'medications', which are DNA chain terminators - that'll kill them pretty rapidly, which I'm sure is exactly what you're advocating. Shares in Glaxo, perchance?

Why aren't the 150,000 people in the U.S. who are 'HIV positive' yet don't know it, dropping like flies? They aren't taking the "live saving" (cough) 'medications', so they should be both dying, AND infecting exponential numbers of other promiscuous people... Why aren't they? Cat got your tongue?

Re:Holy crap! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611480)

Well, it could be a step in the cure. I have read all these it would only be useful in vaccinations but, I think sort of a two pronged approach might be possible in a cure.

Now I know I am taking a lot of liberty here but what if we found something that was 80% effective at curing aids and this was able to contain the other 20% of the virus which could also be killed off by something specific to the gene mutation we make. Imagine it this way, Something else kills or contains the HIV or aids spread. A blood cell or whatever makes them is manipulated to switch this gene on, after a period of time, there are more blocking cells then regular ones which then allows some type of mild poison to kill the Aids cells while the HIV goto the blocker cells then something that targets those blocker cells is sent in to knock them out.

It would be more like a strategic battle or treatment then a cure, but it could have the same effects. So I wouldn't rule this as a cure out, just plac some stipulations around it.

Re:Holy crap! (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611454)

No, it is not a real cure and replacing a whole human's DNA is not something done routinely today.

Re:Holy crap! (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611518)

The last I heard, the only form of gene therapy is a retrovirus.

Press releases are useless. (3, Interesting)

ruinevil (852677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611520)

Obviously our bodies makes TRIM22 to fight against retroviruses already, and it's not good enough. I know that interferon, which activates TRIM22, was an early drug in the fight against HIV.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WXR-4KCGHS0-3&_user=18704&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000002018&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=18704&md5=f922f45405809276e69864f01d98ef4c [sciencedirect.com]

According to this study, TRIM22 is one of most ineffectual TRIM proteins.

Re:Press releases are useless. (2, Interesting)

ruinevil (852677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611560)

According to this study, TRIM22 is one of most ineffectual TRIM proteins against HIV.
It's probably good against something, since it was positively selected over mammalian evolution.

http://www.plospathogens.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.ppat.0030197

Re:Holy crap! (0, Flamebait)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611618)

Funny you should say "Holy crap"
Isn't messing about with the crap hole what started this nastiness in the first place?

But how will it be used? (2, Insightful)

rustalot42684 (1055008) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611306)

Assuming that this is a real cure for AIDS, will it be patented away and made prohibitively expensive, or will it be made available at low cost to those who need it?

Re:But how will it be used? (1)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611360)

Like pretty much all life-saving drugs, it will be patented and too expensive for the majority of HIV victims to use it

Re:But how will it be used? (4, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611406)

Can we please stop the trolling?

Science is expensive. Large-scale high-throughput biomedical science is even more expensive. Clinical trials are EVEN MORE expensive. Where do you expect that the money for all of that comes from.

It seems that on Slashdot, the prevalent opinion is that we should all get whatever we want, whenever we want, for free (or nearly free). That's not how the real world works. Many scientists are working on important biological pathways... but it is largely with the financing of the pharmaceutical companies, that they are able to translate their discoveries into drugs.

Could we improve the system? Of course.
Should we ban consumer-targeting pharmaceutical advertisement? Absolutely.
Should we heavily regulate drug companies? Certainly.

But one thing we should be careful about doing, is assuming that all biomedical science will be miraculously well-financed if drug companies disappear.

Re:But how will it be used? (2, Insightful)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611544)

I agree with you that we shouldn't be naive about the costs of such things as medication. But the fact is that, when you claim that the prevalent opinion here is that "we should all get whatever we want, whenever we want, for free", you're equating a group of geeks' attitudes towards software with someone who earns maybe $1 a day needing treatment that will prolong/save their life - and allow them to keep earning minimum wage so that their children aren't out on the street.

So, yeah, we have to take into account the costs of research, production and so on. But don't call someone greedy when all they want is the chance to live a healthy life.

Is healthcare a right? (5, Interesting)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611614)

Well, I think you've hit the nail on the head. But consider this - your argument essentially boils down to saying that healthcare is a human right. And for those who are about to spew bile at me for saying that, please read the rest of the post.

Let's compare healthcare to food, for instance. In the civilized world, it's a nearly universal agreement, that people should have enough food to survive. Hence, the different forms of welfare programs, food stamps, etc... We provide people who are poor, with enough money or money equivalents, to obtain sufficient sustenance. We don't, however, provide them with 5-course chef-prepared meals every night.

The problem is, however, that people who flame the government and "corporations" for not providing medication for everyone, are essentially suggesting that we provide full healthcare for everyone... which equates to giving out filet mignon welfare, given the costs of many cutting edge drugs and treatments. Now I don't have a problem with the concept of this "filet mignon welfare"... except that I cannot personally afford it... and neither can you.

So as a society, we will at some point have to face the realization that we cannot provide the highest quality healthcare to every member of our society, no matter how hard we try. I wish I had the solution to this problem, but I do not. If I come up with one, I promise to share it with the world, as there is nothing more I'd like to see, than a world where the only diseases people die of, are ones for which cures and treatments haven't been discovered yet. But that's not a world of today, nor do I envision such a world in the near future.

Re:Is healthcare a right? (1)

KiahZero (610862) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611688)

Your analogy fails. Current healthcare for the indigent is more like, "We'll give you water. Go find food on your own. If you can't, too bad, sucks to be you."

If you're suggesting that it's in any way just for one's health outcome to be determined by their access to resources, I suggest that your definition of "justice" needs some work.

Re:Is healthcare a right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611786)

Current healthcare for the indigent is more like, "We'll give you water. Go find food on your own. If you can't, too bad, sucks to be you."
actually, it's like that for the lower-middle, to middle class. The indigent and poor always have access to emergency care and often don't pay for it. When you hear of someone that gets charged 10K for an ibuprofen and has to go into bankruptcy...that person is usually lower to middle class. The poor don't have anything to lose by non-payment. They are judgement proof.

Re:Is healthcare a right? (0)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611854)

You've missed the point altogether. Please read what I wrote again, then respond.

It's not about what SHOULD happen, but rather what can happen in reality.

Like it or not, but resources are SCARCE. Not everyone can have everything... and expensive healthcare easily falls into that category. But then again, I've already written that, you just chose to ignore it.

Re:Is healthcare a right? (1)

psychodelicacy (1170611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611738)

Sure, but if filet mignon were the only thing I could eat due to some rare genetic condition, would it be moral for the government to say "well, tough, you're just gonna have to starve to death because you're too poor"?

Basic food will keep me alive, even if it doesn't taste too good. Basic healthcare, on the other hand, will not necessarily be enough.

Re:Is healthcare a right? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611894)

From everyone according to their abilities to everyone according to their needs, ha? What value does your personal life represent to society in total and to any drug company in particular to give you free fillet mignon of a medical treatment? Some things are just not economically viable.

Re:Is healthcare a right? (1)

fintux (798480) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611884)

I agree that it is impossible to get every citizen the best possible health care, but I don't see this being asked for in the parent post. What I believe is that the society should give a reasonably good health care when taking into consideration the status of the economics of the country and the cost and the efficiency of the treatment.

Also, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare_state#The_welfare_state_and_social_expenditure [wikipedia.org] . It says among other things this:

Welfare provision in the contemporary world tends to be more advanced in the countries with stronger and more developed economies. Poor countries, on the other hand, tend to have limited social services. Within developed economies, all of whom have extensive social safety nets, however, there is very little correlation between economic performance and welfare expenditure.

I guess that this might have something to do with the fact that in several cases, treatment actually ends up saving money for the economy, even if being expensive: a person can keep on doing work for longer and thus gives tax incomes for the government. So, if a good health care is pretty much a +/- 0 for the economy, I know for sure which system I'm for: with the high welfare, you can both eat the cake and have the cake.

Re:But how will it be used? (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611658)

Can we please stop the trolling? ...
It seems that on Slashdot, the prevalent opinion is that we should all get whatever we want, whenever we want, for free (or nearly free).
Who's trolling here? This isn't file sharing we're talking about...

"Whatever we want, whenever we want...?" Things like, I don't know, NOT dying horribly?

Re:But how will it be used? (4, Informative)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611710)

Worry not. This breakthrough was found at the publicly financed University of Alberta. You can keep on crowing about how much Medicine costs to Discover, but the pharma companies spend a lot on computer generated bees and animated restless legs as they do research, and even more on direct marketing to physicians.

If you read the last paragraph of the article (I know, "Read? this is slashdot!") they mention who actually paid for this. In the name of public education, I'll duplicate it for you:

Barr's research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research. The findings are published in the Public Library of Science Pathogens.
.

Your hypothesis that the current system is well financed by pharma companies may be incorrect...

Even more premature (2, Informative)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611882)

But it's not a treatment! It's just a couple of pieces of data.

It's a in-vitro study of one tiny aspect of one pathway that MAY be helpful in TRYING to create a treatment.

If a cure is a 20-layer cake, these people have created a recipe for the syrup for the cream, for one of the layers. According to you, that negates the need to buy ingredients, find out the recipes for the other layers, hire the chef, or actually make the cake!

Re:But how will it be used? (1)

RMB2 (936187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611856)

While I agree that trolling is counter-productive, I think that the parent comment about "patented away" or "prohibitively expensive", which seems on face to be just whining, is really expressing an underlying discontent which is widespread within the /. community, and even with "regular people".

Specifically, the fact is that those industries or organizations most despised by the average nerd in Mom's basement (M$, MAFIAA, Big Pharma) all employ a business model which gives exorbitant rewards to Executives (and frequently shareholders as well) which in turn feels like screwing employees, artists, customers, poor sick people etc. If the average CEO salary wasn't 350x that of the average employee, multi-millions of dollars each year, then product X might not be (or at least might not seem to be) so excessively overpriced.

If we thought that pay to CEOs and employees alike, as well as returns to investors, were equitable and appropriate, and Software '08 still costs $79, or Flaxsorabisan HCl was still $50/week, most of us might be more likely to accept the sticker price.

Re:But how will it be used? (4, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611546)

It will be both. AIDS medicine has a reduced patent allowance on them. They also have a expedited approval system. You can thank Reagan and Clinton years for that. So while yes, it would likely be patented away, it would only be so for a fraction of the time other drugs enjoy.

But that doesn't mean it would be out of the reach of the poor either. Every poor person has access to medical in the US through welfare SCHIP and several other programs. There might be a very small amount of people who don't. This leaves the not so poor who don't have insurance and there is two ways to attack that. The first is all major drug company has a medication assistance program where they provide drugs at reduced costs or ever free of charge to people having problems affording it. The draw back is that you can't buy a new boat and claim the payment makes it so you can't afford it. The other way is SSI. AIDS would be counted as a disabling disease and in most every situation you would be eligible for some coverage under SSI.

That of course is US centric, but any country other then the US has the ability to get the same deals and programs going. The berne convention has provisions for violating patents in emergencies, Canada has pulled this exemption to make generic ciprocal or whatever it was during the anthrax scare. I suppose that if any other country couldn't provide the medication for it's population and it was a problem in their country, it could be seen as an emergency. But I don't think it would be advisable to manipulate it too much.

Next! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611314)

Somebody needs to start taking bets on what's the next disease that will be exploited to promote male circumcision.

Fundies unite! (-1, Flamebait)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611316)

How much do you want to bet that the fundies will try their hardest to outlaw this research because in their view HIV is God's punishment for homosexual behavior?

I bet no one will take that bet. Oo, a metabet.

Re:Fundies unite! (1)

grub (11606) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611376)


How much do you want to bet that the fundies will try their hardest to outlaw this research because in their view HIV is God's punishment for homosexual behavior?

This research is being conducted in Canada. The religious kooks have far less power there than they do down south in JesusLand.

Re:Fundies unite! (1)

JustShootMe (122551) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611404)

Won't stop 'em from trying.

Look at what they've done to the border, at least partly because of US interference.

Re:Fundies unite! (1)

RelliK (4466) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611444)

Ironically, Alberta is Canada's Jesusland -- or the closest thing to it anyway.

Re:Fundies unite! (1)

John3 (85454) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611472)

How much do you want to bet that the fundies will try their hardest to outlaw this research because in their view HIV is God's punishment for homosexual behavior?

I bet no one will take that bet. Oo, a metabet.
I certainly won't take that bet, considering that the fundies are already working to stop the HPV vaccine [wikipedia.org] .

Opposed to *mandatory* HPV vaccine (1)

CustomDesigned (250089) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611804)

The link you provide says that "Both the Family Research Council and the group Focus on the Family support widespread (universal) availability of HPV vaccines but oppose mandatory HPV vaccinations for entry to public school." HPV, like AIDS, is mostly associated with certain behaviors (sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman and illegal intravenous drug use). Yes, you could get raped, or get in a car wreck and exchange blood or whatever, but these risks are small enough that someone might not want to take on the risk of the vaccine. On the other hand, a health care worker with the risk of accidental needle sticks might consider such vaccines a good bet, even if they never engage in the risky behaviours. More importantly, the less likely disease vectors (accidents, rape) are not enough to cause an epidemic. So such vaccines should be available (maybe even subsidized), but not mandatory.

And *all* vaccines have a risk. The Polio vaccine carried a risk, but diseases like polio, smallpox, or flu are easily spread just by day to day contact, so it made sense to make it mandatory. That is why polio vaccine is no longer given in many places - because the risk of contracting polio from the vaccine (very low but non zero) has begun to exceed the risk of contracting polio in the wild.

Re:Fundies unite! (1)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611634)

How much do you want to bet that the fundies will try their hardest to outlaw this research because in their view HIV is God's punishment for homosexual behavior?

So lesbians are god's chosen people, then?

More info needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611322)

Does it block the replication, transcription, or the protein assembly proteins? Or is it something that bonds to one of the cell entry viral proteins?

Can you say "Nobel Prize"? (3, Interesting)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611328)

I'd be interested to know if this explains the phenomenon, discovered a few years ago, that some rare individuals seem to be immune to HIV despite repeatedly engaging in unsafe sex.

Re:Can you say "Nobel Prize"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611346)

Evolution in action.

Re:Can you say "Nobel Prize"? (1)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611362)

That might also have to do with the Transmission rates [wikipedia.org]

Re:Can you say "Nobel Prize"? (4, Informative)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611370)

They are only immune to one of the subtypes of the virus, due to the mutations of the cellular receptor that the virus uses for entry. There are a variety of strains of the virus that will still infect them, albeit not nearly as productively as those without these mutations.

Re:Can you say "Nobel Prize"? (1)

Mex (191941) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611890)

I can't provide links right now, but there were a few prostitutes in Africa that received a lot of coverage because they were apparently immune to HIV.

That was about 5 years ago, but last year they were confirmed to have developed aids. This was much less publicized, I suppose because it's such a downer.

So it's still not really confirmed that anyone is immune to HIV - be careful (Then again, this is slashdot, so maybe you don't have to worry too much ;) )

Yay (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611364)


All the fudgepackers can bareback again!

If only (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611368)

faggots would stop fucking each other up the ass. then there would be no AIDS to cure.

Here's a joke: How did Fonzi die? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611382)

He got EEEYYYYYYYYY-IDS

HIV is not the cause of 'AIDS'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611386)

HIV is not the cause of 'AIDS', most 'AIDS' cases are nothing to do with immune deficiency, and hence not 'AIDS' cases. You idiots on Slashdot know nothing about this subject, except for the 'party line' that the idiots in the media have fed you for the past 30 years.

Try reading Virusmyth.com, or watch the video 'The other side of AIDS', or read the Perth Group, or NewAIDSReview.org, etc.etc.

Indicator disease + HIV = AIDS
Indicator disease - HIV = Indicator disease

Circular definition.
Therefore useless.

'Anti-retroviral' drugs are DNA chain terminators (i.e. chemotherapy drugs) that KILL you, not cure you. HIV doesn't actually exist. Hard to believe, but then, it shows how evil the pharmaceutical industry is.

Why and how is 'AIDS' equally distributed between the sexes in Africa, but not in the West? How is it that all REAL STDs are rising year upon year, and are rife, yet we don't see any teenagers dying of 'AIDS'? (Except the few unfortunate ones who are poisoned to death by the 'medications'.)

Re:HIV is not the cause of 'AIDS'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611878)

Why aren't the 150,000 people in the U.S. who are 'HIV positive' yet don't know it, dropping like flies? They aren't taking the "live saving" (cough) 'medications', so they should be both dying, AND infecting exponential numbers of other promiscuous people... Why aren't they?

Dammit! That Means I Can't Sing This Song Anymore! (2, Funny)

Skeetskeetskeet (906997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611392)

You have aids Yes you have aids I hate to tell you boy that you have aids You've got the aids You may have caught it when you stuck that filthy needle in here Or maybe all that unprotected sex in the rear It isn't clear But what we're searching for is you have aids Yes you have aids Not H.I.V. but full blown aids... Be sure that you see That this is not H.I.V. But really full blown aids... Not H.I.V. but really Full blown aids I'm sorry I wish it was something less serious....... FULL BLOWN AIDS.. You've got the aiiiiiiiiii----iiiids..

Great news! (0)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611416)

Now all we have to do to stop the spread of the disease is genetically modify the entire human race!

(It's just a fucking joke. I can understand the value of this discovery.)

Re:Great news! (0, Offtopic)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611534)

The moral of the story is: Don't bend for a friend or you'll get it in the end!

Delta 32 gene marker is a natural immunity already (5, Informative)

retech (1228598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611464)

People who survived the Plague in Europe either did not encounter it or almost universally had a genetic anomaly commonly referred to as the delta-32 marker. Their ancestors survive other diseases because of this causing what amounts to an odd protein binding issue on the cellular level. Those people are also naturally immune to HIV.

Read more:
wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
pbs [pbs.org]

What?!? (2, Interesting)

Idiot with a gun (1081749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611500)

No radicals screaming "If we vaccinate everyone now, everyone will feel free to go and have promiscuous sex!"? I'm disappointed.

Just finished Jurassic Park (2, Insightful)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611502)

'cause I hadn't watched it in a long time, but Ian says something interesting: Life will always find a way. Meaning, there will always be a tension between our genes trying to evolve out of disease, and the disease out-evolving our adaptations by employing its own. I hate to sound cynical, but even if this were a cure, HIV will find another way or be supplanted by another disease more powerful.

Re:Just finished Jurassic Park (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611574)

You're right. So we should stop this research, 'cause the bugs will just get stronger. While we're at it, let's stop improving agriculture, 'cause the Earth is just going to get more populated anyway. In fact, why do anything, we're just going to die anyway.

Personally, I think Ian's statement about life always finding a way is a great movie line... and that's about it. What is life finding a way for? To live, and adapt? So what you're telling me is that life in general finds a way to live, to survive, to adapt. Except that in this context life is finding a way to kill other life... That guy who got a few hundred pounds of T-Rex tooth inserted into his body surely wasn't 'finding a way' to anywhere but being dead. But wait, I thought life always found a way. Shucks, guess not. But it sounded so poetic and beautiful!

But hey, that's a good dramatic hollywood line for ya.

Re:Just finished Jurassic Park (1)

vanyel (28049) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611652)

What is life finding a way for?

Because life that doesn't find a way to live, doesn't. As a result, all that's left is life that does.

Re:Just finished Jurassic Park (1)

Kurrel (1213064) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611790)

Life does indeed find a way--I'm not sure why one would only include humanity in the somewhat-larger set of living things, but it certainly appears HIV has found a way.

the dodo didn't "find a way" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611736)

...and neither did smallpox.

I haven't watched JP recently, but I thought that quote was about life in general, not every individual species (or anything else, like organism; my great-grandpa didn't find a way either).

it still doesn't work (4, Informative)

wasteur (889134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611512)

As the article says, the researchers are going to find out why this gene isn't already stopping HIV infection. I.e. back to square one. This is not a cure, it's an interesting in vitro study. HIV is hard to fix because it evolves so quickly in an individual, in response to the immune system and anti-retrovirals. It appears already to have evolved around this gene's activity in vivo. Not sure why this is a headline.

Don't Celebrate Just Yet (2, Insightful)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611554)

Can I just remind you all of the hundreds of thousands of people in third world countries over the last 10 years who have DIED from CURED DISEASES. Sure, a vaccine sounds great, but I wont be convinced untill I see people in Africa actually routinely get access to these medical facilities and not just from small time (relative) aid charities. We need a bigger change than just finding cures to more diseases.

Re:Don't Celebrate Just Yet (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611732)

"We need a bigger change than just finding cures to more diseases."

"We"? The problem is the behavior of the African adults who choose to spread disease in Africa. Africans should be blamed for their behaviorial choices, including relentless behaviors that propagate disease. This isn't bigotry, it's putting blame where it is deserved.

Re:Don't Celebrate Just Yet (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611848)

Yeah. If those dirty savages would just stop getting bitten by mosquitoes, they'd have no more problems. But you can't teach 'em.

Until the Virus Mutates (4, Insightful)

Veramocor (262800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611556)

And it always mutates.

A cure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22611596)

Does that mean that if you prevent the infected cells to spread the virus, after those cells die the patient is HIV-free?

It's called... (4, Funny)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611604)

A team of researchers at the University of Alberta claims to have discovered a gene capable of blocking HIV thereby preventing the onset of full blown AIDS.
It's called trilevinassalone.

yeh (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611726)

Let the pan-world orgy begin!

Re:yeh (1)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611796)

Now, the only things left opposing my dream of having unlimited, no-holds-barred gay sex are: herpes, genital warts, and my large collection of dragon shirts.

/. dept explanation (1)

peipas (809350) | more than 6 years ago | (#22611828)

In an episode of Family Guy, an example [milkandcookies.com] of Peter Griffin's skill at breaking bad news is shown.
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