So there's been a lot of buzz amongst my fellow blogger and Twitter pals the past couple of weeks about a new approach to HIV therapy. If you haven't already read about the research from the group at Texas Medical Center in Houston, you can do so here.
Now I'm all about finding a cure, or at least a therapy that can outsmart HIV, but I have to warn everyone to approach this THEORY with a huge amount of skepticism. I emphasize theory because right now this is all this work is founded in, theory. There is no peer reviewed publication showing in vitro (i.e. done in a test tube) work done to support or disprove this theory, and more importantly, there is no clinical data to support this theory.
Let me point to a quote from the article:
Paul is the senior author on a paper about this theory in a June issue of the journal Autoimmunity Reviews. Additional data supporting the theory are to be presented at the XVII International AIDS Conference Aug. 3-8 in Mexico City in two studies titled "Survivors of HIV infection produce potent, broadly neutralising IgAs directed to the superantigenic region of the gp120 CD4 binding site" and "Prospective clinical utility and evolutionary implication of broadly neutralising antibody fragments to HIV gp120 superantigenic epitope."
Note that in the first sentence that the paper is about a theory and also note the title of the paper to be presented in Mexico City at the XVII International AIDS Conference is about "prospective clinical utility." Translation: we think this could lead somewhere but we don't know yet because we haven't done the experiments or clinical studies to prove or disprove our theory. In light of the recent blog drama we should all know that we need to approach everything we read with a certain degree of skepticism.
As much as I'd love to see a cure come from this idea there is much work to be done from this group. They slate a time-table for having a cure in five years...if everything goes to plan. I work in research, nothing ever goes to plan; and 99% of the time when things do go to plan in the lab all of that falls to shit when you try to translate to the clinic. Look at Robert Gallo, he thought he could have a vaccine shortly after developing the blood test for HIV. Here we are 20 years later and no vaccine.
Meanwhile, while these and other scientists are working hard for a cure or a vaccine I'm telling you, not asking you, to practice safe sex and more importantly GET TESTED OFTEN. Knowledge is the best prophylactic.