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Possible Breakthrough for AIDS Cure 787

kryonD writes "Researchers believe they have found a new compound that could finally kill the HIV/AIDS virus, not just slow it down as current treatments do. While most of the community is still hesitant to comment on this until it passes peer review, initial results show that their method attacks and kills ALL variations of the virus. A fast track through the FDA could have one of the world's leading problems licked in less than a decade."
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Possible Breakthrough for AIDS Cure

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  • Raised eyebrows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:25PM (#14665656) Homepage Journal
    There is a history of announcing big breakthroughs in science here in Utah by going to the press before appropriate peer review has taken place (Cold Fusion anyone?). Don't get me wrong, I would love to see this come through, but until it passes the peer review test, as a scientist, I will withhold my enthusiasm.

    In fact, any time I hear something potentially huge being hyped in the mainstream press before I hear about it in scientific journals, my eyebrows tend to rise a bit and I tend to be perhaps even more skeptical.

    "We have some preliminary but very exciting results [but] we would like to formally show this before making any claims that would cause unwanted hype."

    Uh...... yeah. That is why I am reading about it in the Salt Lake Tribune before hearing about it in Science or Nature?

    • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:5, Insightful)

      by megla ( 859600 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:29PM (#14665692)
      You pretty much summed up my take on this.
      If it truely does work, then it's a huge discovery - I just hope the "owners" can put aside huge profits for once, and make the drug available for as near cost as practicable.
      • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I'd support my government footing the bill for some humanitarian aid with this. If it works, of course. It would be a huge gesture of goodwill in the world today. Bono would be proud.
      • If by "owner" you mean the people that invested the money and did the hard work to make it happen, then I hope they can do whatever they please.

        If you care so much about an affordable AIDS medicine, do the work yourself. Or at least offer the people willing to do the work something of equal value in exchange for their efforts.

        Otherwise, you're just as guilty of putting profits ahead of humanitarian aid as those profit-minded researchers you vilify. Unless, of course, your day job already involves doing har
        • Eminent Domain (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Perl-Pusher ( 555592 )
          Well if a city can take someones home to get higher taxes, what is to stop it from being taken and given away for the greater good? In fact that is one eminent domain seizure I can whole heartedly agree with.
      • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:4, Insightful)

        by CB-in-Tokyo ( 692617 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @01:06AM (#14667027) Homepage

        I just hope the "owners" can put aside huge profits for once, and make the drug available for as near cost as practicable.

        I feel the need to comment on this last part. You definitely put it politely, so please don't feel this whole rant is directed at you, but I get tired of people who slag the Pharmaceutical industry for making profits. The dollars involved in reasearch and development are huge! On average it takes 1.8 Billion USD to bring an NME (new molecular entity) to market. The successes fund the next breakthroughs, the failures really hurt. If a pharma company is ever at risk of developing a product that could be forced to be sold as "cheaply as possible" that will weigh heavily on their decision to research it. It is business.

        What is better? 20 companies devoting billions of dollars to the creation of a cure in search of profits, or 2 devoting millions in search of altruism? I put my money on the 20 to come up with something faster. For those who feel like giving money away, whether they be companies, or individuals, they are more than welcome to do so when a cure has been discovered.

        Anyone who wants to say "Those big bad pharma companies should make little to no profit on their discoveries." is welcome to do so, but my reply to that is,

        "If you feel so strongly about it, do something yourself. Go out of pocket. Make a sacrifice. Take as much of your disposable income as possible and donate to an organization that will see to it that people get this cure."

        Most people aren't willing to do that. Most people would rather complain about Pharma. Personally, I think if someone comes up with a cure for this, they should get filthy stinking rich from it, or at least, make more than a pro golfer!

        Again, sorry, this wasn't meant to flame you, and as I said, your post was very polite about it, and certain parts of me agree with you, but I would rather see people pulling together and doing something than hiding behind the excuse that Big Pharma should save the world....and cheaply at that.
        • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:3, Insightful)

          by l3prador ( 700532 )
          Too bad politicians can score big points on the cheap with their constituents by speaking out in favor of importing drugs from other countries where the cost is cheaper. Pharma could donate the drugs to developing nations that can't afford the drugs anyway as long as it knows it can still sell them at the high price here in the States where we can afford it and in other developed nations to make back their R+D money.

          But so long as everyone keeps whining about how little prescription drugs cost in other cou
        • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @02:51AM (#14667515)
          Most people - and even companies have their priorities straight though.

          Drug companies spend more on marketing than they do on research and development - I think that sums up in a nutshell whats wrong here.
        • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:3, Interesting)

          by xtracto ( 837672 )
          Just to extend your point a bit. I hope someone can get this quote source as I do not have it but, I remember Bill Gates said something which I found really important in an interview related to his malaria fight fund donations. [gatesfoundation.org]

          The quote was something like "Unfortunately, it is not possible, with human viruses, to give money to a group of people and tell them, go ahead, make a cure for Malaria. It just does not works like that".

          With this what I want to show is that, this pharmaceutical companies cant do the
        • Read about it here [upenn.edu].
    • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lebski ( 931360 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:29PM (#14665695)
      Yeah but if I came up with a cure for aids or workable cold fusion I think I might mention it to a few people in the time it took for peer review. So for that reason alone we can't discredit this. However that said; odds on its vapour.
      • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:5, Informative)

        by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @12:07AM (#14666712)
        Yeah but if I came up with a cure for aids or workable cold fusion I think I might mention it to a few people in the time it took for peer review.

        You definitely would NOT mention it to the press if you wanted to get published in a top journal like Nature, Science, or Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They have strict restrictions against talking to the press before the work is accepted and published. If you feel like ignoring these restrictions, then these journals can and will yank your paper. See, for instance http://www.nature.com/nature/authors/policy/embarg o.html [nature.com].

    • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:5, Interesting)

      by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:31PM (#14665708) Homepage Journal
      " In addition to being a potential checkmate to HIV, the compounds show indications of being just as effective against other diseases plaguing humankind - among them influenza, possibly even the dread bird flu, along with smallpox and herpes. "

      Its a treatment that cures all that ails ya!

      " Further, the compounds appear to have few limits on how they are delivered to patients. Although early indications are for application of CSAs with an ointment or cream, pills or injections may also be developed - if the compound gets to market. "

      you can rub it on or drink it down, it don't matter!

      Yeah, I think I will remain skeptical as well.

      • You just have to believe. The package costs 19,99 and comes with a free toy model of jesus!
      • by cp.tar ( 871488 ) <cp.tar.bz2@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:23PM (#14666037) Journal
        I know of several substances that will kill any living organism.

        I'd wager they'd solve the AIDS problem... and most other problems plaguing humankind.

        Botuline, cyanide, ricin...
      • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:5, Informative)

        by tsmoke ( 455045 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:56PM (#14666249)
        " Further, the compounds appear to have few limits on how they are delivered to patients. Although early indications are for application of CSAs with an ointment or cream, pills or injections may also be developed - if the compound gets to market. "

        this actually makes perfect sense considering the economics and regulatory hurdles of FDA clinical trials. [wikipedia.org] *

        for a topical NDA (New Drug Application), the costs of a full trial is in the range of 5K-10K per patient. for NDAs that are injected or ingested, the costs are an order of magnitude higher.

        furthermore, clinical trials have four steps. pre-clinical, phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3. at each stage, the chances of the trial failing increases quite significantly, resulting in major financial losses. in other words, if the company spends $300M to bring a drug to phase 3 but fails at that stage, the entire cost is completely sunk.

        for ingested or injected, the risks of failing at a later stage are much higher than topical drugs. in fact, 1 in 5 drugs that reach phase 3 pass.

        considering that the article states that the product is both an anti-viral and anti-fungal agent, there are many applications in the topical space from warts to foot fungus. my guess is that the pharma company will try to quickly bring the drug to market as a topical for these areas due to the above reasons while preparing for clinical trials for HIV/AIDS in parallel.

        *the numbers used here are conjected, but scale is about right.
      • Re:Raised eyebrows (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fireboy1919 ( 257783 ) <rustypNO@SPAMfreeshell.org> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @11:11PM (#14666331) Homepage Journal
        I'm with you in the skepticism. It's quite likely you're right.

        The thing that nags at my mind is that we have found wonderdrugs in the past.

        Penicillin, which could cure most kinds of bacterial infections, could be taken orally or as a salve, and it just got rid of the bacteria. It really was a wonder drug.

        And cowpox was just perfect. You just inject some, and you become immune to smallpox with basically no ill effects. These things weren't found by years of research; they were stumbled upon, and they just worked. So I'm not conceding the thing as impossible. I'm quite willing to admit that they've got something.

        All they'd have to do to convince me is to inject themselves with a pint or so of HIV infested blood.
    • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:39PM (#14665766) Journal
      As we all know, the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a desease that attacks the body's immune system.

      I'm no med student but the article states that:
      CSA-54, one of a family of compounds called Ceragenins (or CSAs), mimics the disease-fighting characteristics of anti-microbial and anti-viral agents produced naturally by a healthy human immune system.
      Ok, if this is true, then we've overcome the large part of AIDS (immunodeficiency). We can just boost the hell out of the white blood cell mimicking Ceragenins. Will this stop AIDS? Maybe not, but it will provide the defenses that AIDS rips from its patients. If I recall correctly, it's not the AIDS virus itself that kills a victim but instead another desease/sickness that occurs from a weakened immune system.

      What's exciting is that the AIDS virus probably doesn't infect/reproduce when it is being killed by Ceragenins like it does to white blood cells. Thus, they may have something here if their premises hold true.

      Googling for "Ceragenins" results in zero hits. Which means this is some magical elixir that is a mistakened cure all. Or perhaps it's something very obscure that no one has thought of until today? We shall see.
      • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:24PM (#14666045) Homepage Journal
        "Googling for "Ceragenins" results in zero hits. "

        Maybe Ceragenins have been black listed for having 'penis size', 'discrete medication', and 'horny teenage girls' on their web site ;)

        -Rick
        • There are a few things to ponder...

          First, the article says that, the compound invented by Paul D. Savage of Brigham Young University appears to hunt down and kill HIV.

          Now, doing an actual search on Brigham Young's website turns up 0 hits for "Paul D. Savage". It does, however, turn up quite a few hits [google.com] for just Paul Savage. In fact, it turns up this dude [byu.edu], a "Paul B. Savage". He seems pretty smart [byu.edu] (MS Word document link). Plus, he's gotten recognition [byu.edu] for research in T-Cells, important information that co
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:28PM (#14666077)
        It appears that the company (Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals) has invented this term for their own products. As none of these claims are in the literature, googling won't find much. You find a bit more searching for CSA. Apparently in December they had a compound namded CSA-52 that killed e.coli and staph aureus (among other things). Again, that was published in the news before any scientific literature (has it been published yet, a quick pubmed search doesn't return anything?).

        Anyway, I'd bet they're pumping the stock. I'm not particularly confident that they've got what they claim (or that its efficacy is as high as they claim).
      • I'm not exactly a med student either, though I know a little bit about immunodeficiency. While this compound may or may not fight AIDS, it will not work by overcoming the immunodeficiency. It's not possible to replace the functions of a white blood cell with some chemical compound. It's like trying to make honey without bees.

        The immune system is one of the most complex systems in the body, and it has one of the most difficult jobs. There is just an incredible array of different cells and substances runn
      • CSA stands for cationic steroid antibiotics and there is a company, Ceragenix [ceragenix.com], that works on them. Perhaps that's what prompted this made up word?

  • The Stock (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mrs. Grundy ( 680212 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:25PM (#14665657) Homepage
    Although the scientist doing this work stated, "we would like to formally show this before making any claims that would cause unwanted hype" and the "few AIDS research luminaries" mentioned in the article are not willing to comment this early, it looks like there may already be some interest in Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals' [yahoo.com] OTC stock which closed at 3.67--up a healthy 122.42% today.
  • Drug overuse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rootofevil ( 188401 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:26PM (#14665662) Homepage Journal
    Insert generic comment about the overuse of a drug leading to the evolution of the disease to a new super form that is resistant to all known treatments.
  • This isn't (Score:2, Redundant)

    by scenestar ( 828656 )
    the first "cure for AIDS" story that i have read on slashdot.

    call me cynical......
    • Re:This isn't (Score:3, Insightful)

      by imemyself ( 757318 )
      I agree. I'm really, really tired of hearing about stuff like that - stuff that has basically no chance of ever developing into anything meaningful. And this goes for the technology stuff, not just the science. Even more tired than I am of seeing dupes. Call me back when someone has developed a treatment for AIDs that has actually been tested on humans and works.
  • More than just HIV (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 ( 638312 ) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:28PM (#14665684) Homepage Journal
    This substance is a mimic of a current human body chemical, and attacks one hell of a lot more than just HIV- my guess is it will end one of two ways. It will either strip the body of everything including our normal colonies of beneficial bacteria and yeasts, and thus be too dangerous to use. Or it won't work for some mutation, and we'll still have a million or so HIV patients after it's in widespread use.
    • Bacteria and Yeast are not the same as the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS and HIV are viruses.

      Therefore, speculating that the same thing that stops viruses will also inhibit yeast or bacteria is erroneous. One consists of live cells--the other merely protiens (and is debated whether or not it is 'alive').

      A million AIDS patients is about 1/40th of today's problem. Either way, you're painting a pretty damn good picture if your 'prediction' holds true.
  • but... (Score:3, Funny)

    by JeffSh ( 71237 ) <{jeffslashdot} {at} {m0m0.org}> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:28PM (#14665685)
    but the AIDS virus was a god sent plague upon the morale-less soul sucking evil anti christian gays... surely the doctors who are pursuing these so called aids cures are performing work of the devil and funding should be withdrawn immediately.

    +5 sarcasm

    (+5 funny? +5 sad? +5 satire, cause you know there are people out there that really think that way, freaks)
  • Fast Track (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:29PM (#14665696) Homepage
    As nice as it is to think that we have an AIDS cure, and that we don't have to worry about it anymore. But I think that rushing it through a FDA approval, without exploring its full consequences could be a little dangerous. If this drug was passed, and everybody who took it got rid of their AIDS, but developed some other condition which killed them in a year, then we'd all look a little stupid, and the drug company would probably be under a lot of scrutiny.

    Another thing though, is this drug patented, or will this be cheaply available for everyone who needs it, especially AIDS ravaged countried in Africa.
    • Re:Fast Track (Score:2, Insightful)

      Yes, it is patented. It, and the whole class of drugs in its catgeory - Cationic Steroid Antibiotics ("CSA") , has been exclusively licensed by Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals, inc. [ceragenix.com] from Prof. Savage at Brigham Young University.

      In my opinion, this is a big dog & pony show based upon very initial findings.
    • Re:Fast Track (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wilson_6500 ( 896824 )
      It's possible that a governmental body might try to do an end run around the patent, if they decide that AIDS is "epidemic enough" for that sort of thing.

      Also, I don't have any good numbers right here to back this up, but I don't think that today's "standard track" is even as rigorous as yesteryear's "fast track," and I don't think that "fast tracking" is as uncommon as you might think. The FDA is _woefully_ understaffed and underfunded considering the bulk and weight of what they do. Can anyone close to
    • Re:Fast Track (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SIGALRM ( 784769 )
      rushing it through a FDA approval
      This is a common misunderstanding of the FDA "fast track" process. The various stages of clinical and human trials are not skipped during an expedited approval; instead the FDA itself allocates a greater effort/resources toward getting applications and data processed quickly.

      In other words, an FDA "fast track" does not mean they will overlook a critical step in the efficacy of the candidate drug.
  • let the... (Score:3, Funny)

    by mattkime ( 8466 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:30PM (#14665703)
    let the fucking begin!
  • by pyros ( 61399 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:31PM (#14665709) Journal
    The day there is an available cure for AIDS, there will be fucking in the streets.
  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:31PM (#14665711) Homepage Journal
    Although so far limited to early test tube studies, CSA-54, one of a family of compounds called Ceragenins (or CSAs), mimics the disease-fighting characteristics of anti-microbial and anti-viral agents produced naturally by a healthy human immune system.

    While the tests are repeatable, there's a long distance between the test tube and human trials.
  • This is being promoted by Ceragenix Pharmaceuticals, inc. [ceragenix.com]. Here is the press release behind this article - Novel Drug Compound Kills Multiple HIV Strains [yahoo.com].

    "Ceragenix has licensed the exclusive worldwide rights to a patented new class of small molecule compounds from its developer, Professor Paul B. Savage at Brigham Young University."

    IF the claims are reproducible, this is a major medical breakthrough and will place Prof. Savage among such immortals as Jonas Salk. However, I'll wait for the independent verif
  • These two headlines would occure together:

    "HIV/AIDS Extinct After W.H.O. Global Campaign!"


    "World Population Skyrockets to 9 Billion in Unprecidented Babyboom!"
  • The compound 'is highly effective at clinically relevant concentrations against a broad spectrum of bacterial infections, including multi-drug resistant organisms such as Pseudomonas, MRSA and VRSA. The compounds are polyfunctional and have activity not just against bacteria, but are also active against certain fungi (Candida), viruses (orthopox family) and many cancers as all these cells share in common the presence of negatively-charged phospholipids on the cell membrane surfaces.'

    So, it could work agai

  • by ChePibe ( 882378 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:38PM (#14665762)
    Forgive me for saying this, but how much of this is trumped up by the scientist vs. the journalist? The researchers stated "we would like to formally show this before making any claims that would cause unwanted hype", yet the journalist went on and hyped it up.

    The headline could've easily read:

    "Professor makes steps in war against HIV/AIDS"

    "New lead in fight against HIV/AIDS"

    Or something along those lines.

    I'm actually a BYU student and I'd love to see a terrible disease like HIV/AIDS destroyed as much as the next man - I've met many people suffering from this disease in Latin America and it's horrible to see. I just think the journalist decided to soup up the story by taking what are very preliminary results and making a huge deal of them.

    Then again, I do have my fingers crossed...
  • by John Newman ( 444192 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:42PM (#14665790)
    Repost this after they've shown some actual data, gotten it published in a respectable peer-reviewed journal, and had independent investigators replicate it. There isn't a single hit for this "family" of compounds on PubMed, and the compound is named after a frikkin biotech company, so color me extremely skeptical - of both data and motives.

    This is why normal people get fed up with science. Their exposure to science is through media stories, PR bullshit like this, which says "Huzzah! Cure for X found!" Later on, we find out that the data is too weak to pass peer-review, that the new compound is toxic, that it only weakly suppresses X in animal models, and that X is not yet, in fact, cured. The real scientists around the world keep at their benchwork, with barely a glance up, steadily and (to the public) inconspicuously advancing our fundamantal understanding of X. But five years later, Mr. Normal Person hears another story like this one and says to himself "Didn't they cure X years ago? What are those ivory-tower leeches spending my $30 billion a year on, anyway?"
  • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:44PM (#14665813)
    I dunno. So the compound destroys HIV in the test tube. AFAIK, this is underwhelming, because the problem with HIV is that it hides out inside cells where blood-borne drugs can't get to it. (I don't even think it's in there as a complete viral particle, probably just the RNA.)

    You could hope that if you kept your bloodstream flooded with the drug you could nail each new virus as it emerged, but I seem to recall HIV can go directly from cell to cell, without entering the bloodstream at all.

    I think our natural immune system kills off viral infections in substantial part by recognizing which of our cells are infected and killing them. That is, it's not just a question of wiping out the free virus, I think.
  • by Ancient_Hacker ( 751168 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:56PM (#14665886)
    There's no shortage of chemicals that kill the AIDS virus. Problem is, they also kill good cells.

    So just the fact that they've found something that kills AIDS is not particularly interesting.

    What's required is to also do tests on cells, then animals, then humans. If they don't immediately keel over, then we can get a tad excited. Until then, it's about as promising a treatment as red fuming nitric acid (a real good AIDS zapper).

  • by wilburdg ( 178573 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:58PM (#14665897)
    This reminds me of something my biology teacher told me in high school:

    HIV is very easy to kill. Anyone with a bottle of Clorox has a powerful tool for killing all variants of HIV.

    The hard part is killing it without killing or damaging other tissues.
  • by Large Bogon Collider ( 815523 ) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:00PM (#14665907)
    Oddly enough, despite what may seem like a breakthrough in HIV research, the word "Ceragenin" brings up ZERO hits in Google. If this was really hot or big, you think it should bring up lots of hits.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @01:11AM (#14667051) Homepage
    Here's the actual press release. [irconnect.com] Note the strong resemblance of the "story" to the press release. There does not seem to be an accompanying scientific paper.

    It's hard to get that excited about an "in vitro" ("in glass") result. Lots of things work in vitro. There's no indication of whether this works in animals. When they can show it working in mice with human immune systems (there are genetically engineered mice with human immune systems, used for this kind of research), they'll have something. This is a long way from an "AIDS cure".

    The reason nobody can find the term "ceragenins" in Google is that compounds of this class are called "cationic steroid antibiotics" in the literature. "Ceragenins" is a PR term.

    This company also claims that these compounds can be used to treat cancer, macular degeneration [irconnect.com], and multiple-antibiotic resistant infections [irconnect.com]. They also can be used for skin cream for dry, itchy skin. [irconnect.com] There's an proposed antiterrorism application [irconnect.com], to make smallpox vaccination safer.

    However, there are no claims that these compounds improve gas mileage.

    Ticker symbol: CGXP.OB [yahoo.com]. Up 122% today on this press release.

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