Another Reason For FRC To Oppose Stem Cell Research

Jim Burroway

December 14th, 2010

It may hold some promise for curing HIV. An American  patient in Berlin received a stem cell transplant in 2007 in an attempt to cure his leukemia. That transplant, to the surprise of his doctors, also ended up curing him of his HIV infection:

But these were no ordinary stem cells – a mutation found in just one percent of Caucasians in northern and western Europe causes CD4 cells to lack the CCR5 receptor, a receptor necessary for early-stage HIV to infect CD4 immune system cells. People with this mutation are more or less immune to HIV infection.

Those anti-HIV stem cells took root in the Berlin patient and repopulated there. At the same time, the host CD4 cells that hadn’t been destroyed in chemotherapy and radiation completely disappeared. After 38 months, doctors still couldn’t find HIV infection in the Berlin patient – in other words, it seems by all measures that his HIV has been cured.

This is still a very unlikely path toward curing AIDS, but it does give scientists several avenues for further investigation. This article explains the patient’s gruelling recovery:

The `Berlin patient`, Timothy Ray Brown, a US citizen who lives in Berlin, was interviewed this week by German news magazine Stern.

His course of treatment for leukaemia was gruelling and lengthy. Brown suffered two relapses and underwent two stem cell transplants, as well as a serious neurological disorder that flared up when he seemed to be on the road to recovery.

The neurological problem led to temporary blindness and memory problems. Brown is still undergoing physiotherapy to help restore his coordination and gait, as well as speech therapy.

Friends have noticed a personality change too: he is much more blunt, possibly a disinhibition that is related to the neurological problems.

On being asked if it would have been better to live with HIV than to have beaten it in this way he says “Perhaps. Perhaps it would have been better, but I don’t ask those sorts of questions anymore.”

Scientists are now discussing ways to identify stem cells with the built-in immunity for further research. A group of U.S. scientists have announced that they have received funding to to explore techniques for engineering and introducing CCR5-deficient stem cells.

Regan DuCasse

December 15th, 2010

The oft heard complaint from the anti gay, is how much it costs in public health funding.

Ignoring of course that various HIV/AIDS fundraisers offset any public funding that might occur. AMFAR, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and AIDS Lifecycle, raise multi millions every year to combat the disease in America.

And also I’m sure, the anti gay wouldn’t contribute to such charities themselves. Neither have they volunteered for outreach or education.

The commitment of the researchers is remarkable and essential. And obviously with no help from the anti gay.

I will always ask, and remind them of the fact that a fatal STD has ALWAYS plagued mankind. HIV/AIDS is the most recent, but it’s not the only one.
It’s remarkable really, how patently STUPID people are about that.
They forget that about syphilis. Not only that, they forget that there have been abuses in recent history regarding public health and marginalized minorities. As in the case of syphilis and the Tuskeegee Experiment.

But a cure was found eventually to the good of all. A vaccine has been found for HPV. To the good of all. And HIV/AIDS research goes on, to the good of all.
I can’t even get those who are avowed Christians to pray for the medial professionals and researchers to make HIV go the way of the other diseases and a vaccine or cure is found.

If it is, and I hope it’s soon: they couldn’t be credited with joining the fight against the disease, just fighting the people at risk of getting it.
But of course, no doubt they won’t see it that way.

It’s always exciting to read what procedures are being employed against HIV.
I have an incurable auto immune disorder myself, and maybe stem cell therapy will cure it. My friends with HIV and I have much in common with what we’re at risk for.
This patient in Germany has offered up his body to science and we should be grateful for what he’s enduring.

And hopefully, he won’t end up in obscurity, like Helen Lacks almost did for her immense contribution to cancer research.

Regan DuCasse

December 15th, 2010

I just thought of something. It was near the end of the movie “Longtime Companion” where surviving friends are reflecting on their lives on the beach at Fire Island.
One asked “what do you think things will be like if a cure for this plague is found?” And his friend answers …”like the end of World War Three.”

And like the very haunting scene depicted, I’m sure great celebration will come.

Timothy Kincaid

December 15th, 2010

We did discuss this story a while back, but it is good to have an update.

Regan – we do think alike sometimes, don’t we? In the earlier post, I opened with a reference to Longtime Companion.


December 16th, 2010

Even so, transforming an HIV-infected patient to a state where medication is unnecessary would be an enormous achievement, if it could be replicated on a large scale — and the vast majority of the HIV-infected would be quite happy to leave the debate about whether or not this should be called a “cure” to the doctors and scientists.

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