Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Stem Cells To Kill HIV? Hope Or Hype?

This year I have posted at least three stories on dramatic advances in the fight against HIV/AIDS only to be crestfallen by the follow up that either indicated the stories were complete hype or the results when reanalyzed were inconclusive. Now comes an announcement by UCLA that they have a "proof of concept" around using genetically engineered stem cells as a vaccine against HIV.

Until I see a patient walking around completely cured of the virus, I can only say...blah, blah, blah! This sounds like hype to secure either funding or to make a first claim on a patent. Today, medical research seems to be about getting patentable drugs and processes rather than about curing disease. The big winners find a way to make previously deadly diseases "manageable". That is medical double speak for , not a cure, but still big profits.

Skeptical? You betcha! The "Living with HIV" industry is worth billions of dollars a year. A cure though it would be wonderful would only generate income until the disease was wiped out. I suspect if polio were an emerging epidemic today, there would be no vaccine, but lots of drugs to "manage" the disease.

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