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HIV Used To Cure Genetic Blood Disorder

HIV Used To Cure Genetic Blood Disorder

Incredible as it may seem, the HIV virus could be used to treat a severe genetic disorder – at least, it has twice already.  The results of the most recent study, where French scientists treated a young man with beta-thalassemia, a life-threatening form of anemia, with a “defanged” version of the AIDS virus, indicate that this treatment may have wide applicability, although of course after two tests it’s hard to say.

Beta-thalassemia primarily affects people of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Chinese descent, and about 60,000 children are diagnosed with it worldwide each year.  Patients are usually treated with numerous blood transfusions, although that leads to an iron build-up that can damage organs.  The disease can also be cured by bone marrow transplants, but only if an appropriate donor can be found.

The HIV virus, however, seems to be effective – the man who was treated in the most recent study has been stable for 22 months, and has stopped receiving blood transfusions.  The team has even been able to remove much of the iron that has built up over the years.  “He is happy to have a normal life back, and for the first time has a full-time job in a main restaurant in Paris,” Dr. Francoise Bernaudin, the clinical hematologist who has been monitoring his condition, said, according to the LA Times.

Other researchers say that the results could have been a lucky accident, and we’ll certainly have to see – the French scientists who performed the last study have enrolled another 10 patients, which may tell us more definitively whether this is a viable cure for genetic blood disorders.  But the idea that the HIV virus could be used to treat other diseases is certainly intriguing – although it can’t change the devastation that HIV/AIDS causes worldwide.

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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75 comments

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2:08PM PDT on Oct 19, 2010

I hope it can be proven to be effective in everyone it's tried on, and that there are no side effects down the road.

7:20PM PDT on Oct 4, 2010

Graham J You know not of what you speak. The immune system kicks in when a bug enters the body.HIV wears the immune system down over time. Sort of like a car in neutral,floor boarded, the engine blows up. There is NO cure for HIV or AIDS. There is no "boost" for the immune system of which we know. They are working on it but no candy so far. People like you are dangerous! Good diet for anyone is a good thing but does NOTHING to "cure" "slow down" or "stop" the progression of the disease. I have buried too many people who subscribed to your snake oil and buried them just as fast as those who didn't, so stop it! Especially with the moralizing implications of "drug users" because if you have ever taken an asprin YOU too are a drug user! And why did you take that asprin if not to feel better? The pain can be mental or physical, doesn't matter. Sorry but the laying on of hands don't cut it for most people.
How do I know? I have lived with this bug for over 20 years.
There is one person who had a specific type of lymphoma and HIV, they zapped his immune system and did some other things along with a bone marrow transplant. Dam near killed him but he no longer shows any HIV virus in the blood. The whole thing was so risky and painful they won't even consider doing it again.
There is a species of monkey living with SIV and another who dies from it. They are trying to figure out how to get the human immune system to ignore the virus thus you c-exist with it. No candy so far.
CD4

3:32PM PDT on Oct 3, 2010

One more proof that something good comes out of everything.

8:27AM PDT on Oct 3, 2010

I think I would be scared to be one of the first to try something like this. It seems risky.

11:06AM PDT on Oct 1, 2010

My son who is 1 yr 4 mnths is thalassemia Major. Can u plz give me all the details about this like risk factor, charges etc so that we can plan for it. My email ID is nitu_gorgeous@yahoo.com. Please Please let me know.

10:27PM PDT on Sep 29, 2010

Interesting concept

12:30AM PDT on Sep 29, 2010

I am so glad to hear about this cause my son who is 1 yr 4 mnths is thalassemia Major. Can u plz give me all the details about this like risk factor, charges etc so that we can plan for it.

4:19AM PDT on Sep 25, 2010

Researches utilize crippled viruses all the time, to fight genetic disorders, viruses, etc. Using HIV/AIDS to do this is no different.

12:41AM PDT on Sep 22, 2010

How can you transmit something that does not really exist anymore? The leftover virus cannot reproduce. It just sits in the cells it transplanted the new genes to.

Lisa E. that's a bunch of nonsense. One of those virus myths easily debunked by doing some research online. Avoiding the conspiracy theorists of course.

7:31PM PDT on Sep 21, 2010

From whence came HIV? Gallo was experimenting in the early 70s for Cancer treatment in Maryland. His 'altered Simian virus could not easily be cultured in primates so a human gay guy ('cause he predictably could keep his trap shut) consented to a bone marrow . . . and became Patient Zero. Gallo of course never expected 'accidental results' -- the birth of a new deadly STD instead of a Cancer cure. Fact is HIV was originally isolated in France by Dr. Montangier of the Pasteur Institute, naming it the LAV virus, 11.5 months prior to Gallo's famous press release naming the virus HIV. Gallo asked for peer review privilege but Montangier wisely retained blind samples that later when genetic testing of viral parentages became sufficiently sophisticated, it proved Gallo plagiarized not only Montangier's science methodology but boldly presented even the same patient-samples that years later tracked back to Montangier's LAV patient in France. The World Court eventually ruled but the French 'settled' on Gallo being named as co-discoverer, never publicized in N.American history/news. Later the BSE fiasco. (Scrapie sheep virus) lab experiment cancelled. Much cheaper to dispose of experimental sheep at rendering plants than by autoclaving or cremation . . . Such disasterous results are spin-doctored, then disseminated to a desensitized population that essentially does not understand science much less Virology anyway. Corporate interests at the forefront always . . . Defanged virus indeed

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