- Education and Science
Is A Cure For AIDS In Sight? - Moving Towards An AIDS-Free Generation
A Cure For HIV & AIDS?
Rather surprisingly, as many as a quarter (25%) of the people in the UK inflicted with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), do not even know that they are infected with the deadly virus, which is responsible for developing into AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
It is currently estimated that one in 650 people in the UK suffers with HIV, which indicates that there may be as many as 25,000 people in the UK infected with HIV without realizing it.
During 2012, as many as 6,360 new cases of HIV infection were discovered amongst people living in the UK. Out of these newly discovered cases, 45% of them had contracted HIV through heterosexual activities, whereas 51% of infections had been contracted through male homosexuality. The remaining 4% had contracted the virus via other means, such as sharing hypodermic needles and via mother-to-baby transmission during pregnancy.
* female homosexuality doesn't seem to have been taken into consideration.
The only real difference between HIV and AIDS, is that AIDS is simply a later stage of the virus - HIV infection is considered to be the initial attack on the immune system, whereas AIDS is considered to be developed once the immune system has been successfully weakened.
The AIDS virus has such a high rate of genetic variability, fast replication cycle and high mutation rate, an AIDS victim becomes infected with multiple variants of the HIV virus every single day. Once integrated the virus becomes latent allowing it to avoid detection by the immune system.
However, recent scientific breakthroughs in medical research seem to indicate that we may now well be moving towards an AIDS and HIV-free generation.
Over 50 years after the first known case that the HIV virus had infected a human being, in 1959, there is now finally enough scientific evidence to suggest that we may be about to start moving into a new HIV/AIDS-free generation.
According to research by scientists at Washington University School Of Medicine, nanoparticles that contain Melittin - a toxin found in bee's venom - can destroy the HIV virus whilst doing no damage to healthy surrounding cells. Due to protective bumpers which were added to the nanoparticles, when coming into contact with normal cells, they bounced off instead of attaching themselves.
It was also reported in 2004, by scientists in Croatia, that bee's venom could be used for the prevention and treatment of cancer and this has recently been demonstrated by Samuel A. Wickline, MD, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, who showed that nanoparticles loaded with Melittin have the ability to destroy tumour cells.
Because Melittin attacks double-layered membranes without doing any damage to healthy cells, it can potentially also be used to treat a variety of other viruses, such as hepatitis B and C.
However, this certainly isn't the only revolutionary breakthrough in HIV/AIDS research in recent times - in October 2013, Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga at University of Massachusetts confirmed that they had put HIV into remission in a Mississippi baby who had been born with the HIV virus.
Also in January 2013, researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research had announced they had developed a form of gene therapy that turns the HIV protein against itself and ultimately stops it from replicating, thereby preventing HIV from developing into AIDS. The same month, researchers at Stanford University announced that they had successfully created HIV-resistant T-cells.
In 2011, scientists at the National Institute of Health's Vaccine Research Center also announced a major step towards developing a vaccine for HIV, after discovering two key proteins which neutralize 91% of the HIV virus's 190 strains and in 2010, doctors announced that a HIV-positive patient had been cured after receiving a stem cell transplant in 2007, as part of a treatment course for leukemia.
Research into HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment has accelerated at a remarkable rate lately and it has been suggested that we are very close to ending the AIDS epidemic and moving towards an AIDS-free generation.
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