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02-14-2005, 10:42 AM
I am the director of an AIDS Services agency in Philadelphia. This IS disturbing news, but, on the same token, not a complete surprise. Despite the lack of attention paid to HIV/AIDS, it has continued to spread. Moreover, despite our knowledge of how to prevent the spread of HIV, people continue to have unprotected sex, often abusing drugs while doing it. Some people on antiretrovirals misuse them, resulting in resistent strains. So it was just a matter of time before we witnessed a 'super' version of HIV. The AIDS epidemic is not confined to Africa. It is a worldwide epidemic (that includes this country) and recent policies of the current administration to cut entitlement programs such as Medical Assistance, HUD, substance abuse treatment and, ACTUALLY CUTTING AIDS PREVENTION FUNDING, will only exacerbate the incidence of HIV/AIDs in this country. Many poeple don't realize that when George Bush talks about changing Social Security, but not for people 55 years old and older, he is speaking about reducing or eliminating benefits for the disabled (including people living with HIV/AIDS) widows and surviving children. It continues to amaze me that we have the ability to create formitable commercial marketing, flooding the world with propaganda, or sales ads: we can even convince people to spend $70,000 for a Toyota by calling it a Lexus. Imagine the dent we could put in slowing the spread of HIV/AIDS in this country if we just used a fraction of that ability. In closing, its unfortunate that it takes horrific news like this new strain to start a dialogue about HIV/AIDS. I cannot describe how difficult it is to get people to talk about it, let alone change their behavior or, miraculously, offer support to an agency like mine. Over a billion dollars each was raised in a few weeks in response to the Tsaunami crisis and 911 respectively, yet every day 8,200 people die of AIDS every single day. In fact, 15 people have died since I started writing this response. If you would like to know more about my agency please visit www.bebashi.org

Posted By winketb

02-14-2005, 03:07 PM
HIV 'could destroy cancer cells'
The virus targeted cancer cells

US scientists hope to be able to use a harmless form of the Aids virus to seek and destroy cancer cells.

A University of California team found an "impotent" version of HIV, with the disease-causing parts of it removed, tracked down cancer cells in mice.

The next step would be to insert a gene into the virus that would kill the cancer upon contact.

The team told Nature Medicine more safety studies were needed before such a method could be tested in humans.

Gene therapy

The mice they studied had a form of skin cancer, called melanoma, that had spread to the lungs.

In the laboratory, the scientists took HIV and removed the parts of the virus that causes disease.

They then stripped off the virus' outer coat and redressed it with the outer suit of another virus.

By doing this, the researchers had changed the target of the virus.

HIV normally infects immune cells called T cells. The new outer coat instead directed HIV to hunt down molecules present on cancer cells, called P-glycoproteins.

The scientists also added a substance to the virus that would make it visibly glow when looked at with a special camera so they could track where it travelled once injected into the mice.

Researcher Dr Irvin Chen, from UCLA's Aids Institute, said: "The virus travelled through the bloodstream and homed straight to the cancer cells in the lungs, where the melanoma had migrated.

"Gene therapy has been hampered by the lack of a good carrier.

"Our approach proves that it is possible to develop an effective carrier and reprogram it to target specific cells in the body."

Beating cancer's spread

His team is planning to see whether the virus could carry a therapeutic gene to the precise location of the cancer.

As well as controlling cancer, they hope this technique might be useful for treating genetic diseases.

Dr Georges Vassaux, from Cancer Research UK's clinical centre at Barts and The London, said: "This is the first time that a vector - or delivery system - for gene therapy has targeted a tumour in such a specific manner.

"This means the technique could be used to use gene therapy in cases where cancer has spread around the body.

"So far gene therapy has been successfully used only on tumours that are confined to their original location."

He said there had been concerns that such methods might cause leukaemia in normal cells.

"As the team has managed to target the therapy to cancer cells, it looks as though a hazard associated with the use of integrative viruses may have been overcome," he said.