Tag Archives | HIV

Yeast Genetically Engineered to Produce THC


Scientists have been able to genetically engineer yeast to produce THC. This could help make THC cheaper and more readily available for those who use the chemical to treat nausea from HIV or chemo.

Roxanne Khamsi via The New York Times:

In August, researchers announced they had genetically engineered yeast to produce the powerful painkiller hydrocodone. Now comes the perhaps inevitable sequel: Scientists have created yeasts that can make important constituents of marijuana, including the main psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Synthetic versions of THC are available in pill form under brand names like Marinol and Cesamet; they are generally used to treat nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite caused by H.I.V. infection or cancer chemotherapy. Genetically modified yeast could make THC in a cheaper and more streamlined way than traditional chemical synthesis.

Using yeast could also shed light on the clinical usefulness of cannabis-derived compounds. Marijuana is increasingly embraced as medicine, yet there is limited evidence that it is effective against many of the conditions for which it is prescribed.

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Capitalism-Loving Disease: Xinjiang’s hidden HIV epidemic

Raising community awareness of HIV/AIDS in China, 2006. Photo: AusAID via Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Raising community awareness of HIV/AIDS in China, 2006. Photo: AusAID via Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

Casey Halter via Hopes&Fears:

Last January, one of Western China’s foremost HIV/AIDS advocates was arrested by the People’s Republic of China on charges of “endangering state security.” Human rights activists say no one has heard from—or about—him ever since.

The man who disappeared was Akbar Imin, one of the country’s 11-15 million Muslim Uyghur minorities, a Turkic-speaking ethnic population located on the fringes of secular Chinese society. Born in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in China’s far Northwest, Imin had been working since 2009 for the PRC government’s Development Research Center in Beijing, tasked with gearing up drug abuse and HIV/AIDS prevention strategies among Uyghur migrants in the nation’s capital up until he was thrown in jail.

Official reports about Akbar Imin’s detainment didn’t even come out until two full months after his arrest, Greg Fay, project manager at the Washington D.C.-based Uyghur Human Rights Project, told Hopes&Fears.

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“Cured” woman is HIV-free for 12 years without taking drugs

AJ Cann (CC BY-NC 2.0) An 18-year-old woman, who was born with HIV, no longer has traces of the virus in her blood, despite not taking antiretroviral drugs for over 12 years. Some doctors think this may have to do with the consistent use of the drugs early in the woman's life. Via New Scientist:
The woman has no genetic factors that might make her naturally resistant to the virus. Instead, it is likely that theearly, regular use of a combination of antiretroviral drugs is to credit for her remission, says Asier Sáez-Cirión of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, who will present the case at the International AIDS Society meeting in Vancouver, Canada, on Tuesday.
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Origins of HIV Revealed

ElecMicro of HIV Retrovirus serum isolate Samp-HM47.jpg

ElecMicro of HIV Retrovirus serum isolate Samp-HM47. Picture attributed to uLtRa_GoLiAtH (CC)

It’s never been completely clear how the HIV virus came about, giving rise to various conspiracy theories about it being man-made. The Independent reports on a new study revealing a “perfect storm” of factors giving rise to the virus’s emergence:

A “perfect storm” of factors that came together in colonial Africa early last century led to the spread of Aids in the human population and eventually a full-blown pandemic infecting more than 75 million people worldwide, a study has found.

A genetic analysis of thousands of individual viruses has confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that HIV first emerged in Kinshasa, the capital of the Belgian Congo, in about 1920 from where it spread via the colonial railway network to other parts of central Africa.

Scientists believe the findings have finally nailed the origin of the Aids pandemic to a single source, a colonial-era city then called Leopoldville which had become the biggest urban centre in Central Africa and a bustling focus for trade, including a market in wild “bush meat” captured from the nearby forests.

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Half Of All Americans Believe In At Least One Medical Conspiracy Theory

OuchFlintGoodrichShot1941If you believe that the CIA deliberately infected African Americans with the HIV virus or another medical conspiracy theory, you have plenty of company: about half of all Americans, reports Reuters:

About half of American adults believe in at least one medical conspiracy theory, according to new survey results.

Some conspiracy theories have much more traction than others, however.

For example, three times as many people believe U.S. regulators prevent people from getting natural cures as believe that a U.S. spy agency infected a large number of African Americans with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

J. Eric Oliver, the study’s lead author from University of Chicago, said people may believe in conspiracy theories because they’re easier to understand than complex medical information.

“Science in general – medicine in particular – is complicated and cognitively challenging because you have to carry around a lot of uncertainty,” Oliver said.

“To talk about epidemiology and probability theories is difficult to understand as opposed to ‘if you put this substance in your body, it’s going to be bad,'” he said.

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Cure For Child Born With HIV Virus

No one can explain how, but the first human with the HIV virus has been cured reports the Guardian:

Doctors in the US have made medical history by effectively curing a child born with HIV, the first time such a case has been documented.

The infant, who is now two and a half, needs no medication for HIV, has a normal life expectancy and is highly unlikely to be infectious to others, doctors believe.

Though medical staff and scientists are unclear why the treatment was effective, the surprise success has raised hopes that the therapy might ultimately help doctors eradicate the virus among newborns.

Doctors did not release the name or sex of the child to protect the patient’s identity, but said the infant was born, and lived, in Mississippi state. Details of the case were unveiled on Sunday at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Atlanta.

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Gambia Promises To Treat Tens of Thousands of AIDS Patients With Natural Cure

Gambia President Yahya Jammeh PortraitCould it possibly be true? One assumes that this is just another dangerous dose of snake oil giving false hope to HIV/AIDS patients, but on the other hand Big Pharma wouldn’t exactly welcome an herbal cure, would they? From Reuters:

AIDS patients would be offered an herbal cure at a 1,111-bed hospital in Gambia that the president said on Tuesday he plans to build despite medical concerns the treatment is dangerous.

President Yahya Jammeh said in 2007 he had found a remedy of boiled herbs to cure AIDS, stirring anger among Western medical experts who claimed he was giving false hope to the sick.

“With this project coming to fruition, we intend to treat 10,000 HIV/AIDS patients every six months through natural medicine,” Jammeh said in his New Year’s address, adding that he expected the 1,111-bed hospital to open in 2015.

The World Health Organisation and the United Nations have said Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS treatment is alarming mainly because patients are required to cease their anti-retroviral drugs, making them more prone to infection.

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Mathematicians Reach Breakthrough In HIV Research

Here's a great real world example of why math is important kids! From the Wall Street Journal:
Scientists using a powerful mathematical tool previously applied to the stock market have identified an Achilles heel in HIV that could be a prime target for AIDS vaccines or drugs. The research adds weight to a provocative hypothesis—that an HIV vaccine should avoid a broadside attack and instead home in on a few targets...
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UN Asks The World To Put An End To AIDS By 2020

AIDSUNWith numerous research groups inching closer to a cure for AIDS, the United Nations asks that leaders throughout the world end the pandemic by 2020. While one of the largest problems in the spread of AIDS is the lack of knowledge about the disease and access to treatment in certain areas, there is also a lack of funding to facilities that are on a progressive path towards a cure, but are stopped because of finances. The Christian Post reports:

World leaders must do everything in their power to end the AIDS pandemic by 2020, the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said at the U.N. Summit on AIDS in New York.

“Today, we gather to end AIDS,” Ban said as the United Nations General Assembly opened on Wednesday.

The three-day summit is being held as the world marks the 30th anniversary since HIV was first discovered. Ban told delegates gathered from across the world that AIDS must end: “That is our goal – zero new infections, zero stigma and zero AIDS-related deaths.”

Ban urged: “If we are to relegate AIDS to the history books we must be bold.

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‘Berlin Patient’ May Be First Man Cured Of AIDS

aids-cure-firstFrom CBS via Radio Television Caraibes reports:

A 45-year-old man now living in the Bay Area may be the first person ever cured of the deadly disease AIDS, the result of the discovery of an apparent HIV immunity gene.

Timothy Ray Brown tested positive for HIV back in 1995, but has now entered scientific journals as the first man in world history to have that HIV virus completely eliminated from his body in what doctors call a “functional cure.”

Brown was living in Berlin, Germany back in 2007, dealing with HIV and leukemia, when scientists there gave him a bone marrow stem cell transplant that had astounding results.

“I quit taking my HIV medication the day that I got the transplant and haven’t had to take any since,” said Brown, who has been dubbed “The Berlin Patient” by the medical community.

Brown’s amazing progress continues to be monitored by doctors at San Francisco General Hospital and at the University of California at San Francisco medical center.

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