For almost a quarter of a century, scientists around the world have been trying to find a cure for the disease that has so far killed millions. The UN estimates that more than two million people were newly infected with the AIDS virus last year, more than half in sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers have developed a range of medicines that can substantially prolong the life of HIV-positive patients, but their high price is keeping them outside of reach of many.
So scientists at the University of Miami are taking a different approach to attacking the virus. In 2008, a patient in Berlin, Germany, was cured of HIV when he received a mutated gene during a bone marrow transplant from a donor naturally resistant to HIV. Director of the Center for AIDS Research at the University of Miami, Mario Stevenson, said researchers are now trying to find a way to deliver the mutated gene on a large scale.
Although we can't use bone marrow transplant to eradicate HIV, it has given us clues on how we want to approach a cure strategy. It's given us a better understanding of what the virus is doing in the individuals who are on therapy, and it’s given us the sort of the obstacles we need to overcome in order to eradicate the virus.
Stevenson said an effective method would be to develop a harmless virus that could transfer the mutated gene directly into the HIV virus. With this approach, he said, the scientists are beginning to see a possible cure.
The basic science efforts that many of us have been engaged in have started to reveal what the ingredients of a cure would look like, what the obstacles to a cure look like, and what a success story might look like.
Scientists have to make sure that the delivery virus will be absolutely harmless, but see, the approach looks very promising. They predict it’s just a matter of time before there is a victory in the war against AIDS. George Putic, VOA News, Washington.