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More Good News in the Fight Against HIV
September 3, 2010 1:08 PM   Subscribe


 
Go science!
posted by chavenet at 1:10 PM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


So what's the catch that results in this one coming to nothing?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:13 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you read the article, it seems that it selectively targets HIV cells while leaving healthy cells alone. That's pretty huge, and circumvents one of the pitfalls of many "cures" in medicine.
posted by stoneweaver at 1:14 PM on September 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Please work.
posted by Babblesort at 1:26 PM on September 3, 2010


Oh please, oh please...
posted by Dasein at 1:30 PM on September 3, 2010


Interesting. What's even more interesting is the idea that, if you can devise a treatment for a HIV-infected cell, can you devise a treatment for other types of virus-infected cells?

How many millions of people get knocked out by the flu ...?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:34 PM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is so incredibly great.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:42 PM on September 3, 2010


So what's the catch that results in this one coming to nothing?

The paper doesn't mention this, but I'm curious what cell cultures they used. There is a biological difference between cells in vitro ("cell culture" or test tube) and in vivo (in human beings) that can result in therapies working well in experimental conditions but not in real-world conditions.

I think the paper mentions uncertainty about killing off dormant, latent HIV-infected cells of a certain type, but they say they'll follow up on that.

Assuming this works in vivo, they have to figure out how to administer a therapy so that it A) doesn't kill the patient and B) works reliably.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:45 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


CPB -- I think this method is specific to retroviruses, which is part of what makes it so cool. Basically, drive the virus to integrate itself into the cell's DNA more than it normally would, and the cell will respond by killing itself. It's pretty fucking brilliant.
posted by greatgefilte at 1:45 PM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't mean to shit on their work- if this one works out, we could seriously be looking at a cure soon. I just have seen so many articles with "new breakthrough in the search for the cure!" or "cure for AIDS found!" that I've got cynical is all.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:46 PM on September 3, 2010


That's pretty awesome. It'll be even more awesome if this ends up being accessible to sub-Saharan Africa, and not just rich Westerners. How expensive is it to mass-produce designer peptides? Are they shelf-stable, or do they require special handling? Would this be administered intravenously?

Since it was developed at a public university, I presume that it can't be patented?

(Of course, all of this assumes that scientists can get this from the Petri dish to real-world treatment in the first place.)

I was born in 1977, so I grew up with the AIDS epidemic. People a bit older than me tell me that there were ridiculous amounts of fucking going on in the 70s. Then AIDS came along, and people were afraid to fuck indiscriminately any more. So what I'm saying, you see, is that in addition to saving people from a horrible disease and rescuing poverty-stricken regions of the world from a serious epidemic, this discovery might bring about increased levels of casual fucking. Just something to consider.
posted by ixohoxi at 1:49 PM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


As long as we're playing what-if games, what if this DID wind up curing all virus-related ills, and what if we found a way to cheaply manufacture this treatment and give it to under-developed countries? How many people die of virus-related illnesses every year, worldwide? How would it effect the planet if all these people lived?

I think about this a lot. We're still a long way away from curing major killers, like cancer, but what with all the medical advances in the this century and the last one, it's just starting to be conceivable that one day we will. If you asked me to bet whether or not cancer would be cured in my lifetime, I'd bet against it. But if I lost the bet, I wouldn't be totally surprised.

If there was a cure for cancer and I or someone I loved could benefit from it, you'd better believe I'd kick and claw and scream and hock the family jewels to get that cure. I'm just as selfish as the next guy. But can we really sustain a world in which there's no more disease -- or even a world in which a few of the major killers are wiped out?

I never hear this discussed, but isn't the end-result of medical science the death of the planet due to too many mouths to feed? I know we're not worried about that right now, because we DON'T have cures for cancer and AIDS. But isn't that what we're working towards? Something that will leave us with a population vastly more huge than the huge one we already have? What's the plan for when that happens? Are we just supposed to hope that a solution to hunger and depletion of resources gets discovered before cancer is cured?

I don't have any solutions for this. What's the alternative? Don't try to cure cancer? That's pretty unthinkable.
posted by grumblebee at 1:51 PM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, what percentage of a typical HIV patient's cells are infected with the virus?

Existing ARV therapies "work" (In 2010, HIV is not a death sentence), but can only keep the virus at bay (ie. HIV is essentially undetectable in a patient successfully undergoing ARV, but comes back once the drugs are stopped).

If this turns out to be successful in humans, the scientists behind this deserve the nobel prize on the spot. Unfortunately, I'm not on the Nobel prize committee, so all I can do is to promise to bake them a cake.
posted by schmod at 1:53 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I never hear this discussed, but isn't the end-result of medical science the death of the planet due to too many mouths to feed?

As George Carlin used to say: the planet will be fine. It's humanity that'll be fucked.
posted by vorfeed at 1:55 PM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


grumblebee: there's evidence that population growth correlates with infant mortality. When people expect all their children to survive, they have far fewer of them.
posted by Humanzee at 1:57 PM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


As George Carlin used to say: the planet will be fine. It's humanity that'll be fucked.

It depends on how you (and Carlin) define "fine." I imagine that when we go, we'll take a lot of other species with us. And we'll also strip-mine the planet of all sorts of resources. I mean, if there's some alien species waiting for us to die so that they can colonize Earth, I doubt we'll leave much for them. We'll be like the guests that take all the toilet paper with them when they leave the Bed and Breakfast.
posted by grumblebee at 2:00 PM on September 3, 2010


grumblebee: there's evidence that population growth correlates with infant mortality. When people expect all their children to survive, they have far fewer of them.

This may be. I'd like to see some number crunching. (I don't have the math chops to do this myself.) Let's say you take the current population and allow everyone to live to be 120. Can we sustain that without a dip in the birthrate? If so, that's great -- I guess. If not, how low would the birthrate have to dip to save us?

Would everyone who wants a kid still be able to have at least one? If not, we're looking at BIG problems. When you have to start saying to people, "You're not allowed to reproduce..." Yikes.
posted by grumblebee at 2:03 PM on September 3, 2010


I never hear this discussed, but isn't the end-result of medical science the death of the planet due to too many mouths to feed?

From where I sit, the end goal of medical science is dying old and content, in your bed and surrounded by your loved ones, as opposed to dying in agony when you're twenty-two or so.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 2:13 PM on September 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


When you have to start saying to people, "You're not allowed to reproduce..." Yikes.

More 'yikes' than 'we're not going to allow you and your loved ones to be cured of/vaccinated against lethal diseases?' Because make no mistake, if there are cures for these things, they'll appear eventually. And I doubt people will take any kindlier to being denied treatments than to being put on the one child policy standard or whatever.
posted by AdamCSnider at 2:18 PM on September 3, 2010


[A few things removed. Please let's not throw flamebait asides, joking intent or not, into contentious discussions.]
posted by cortex at 2:25 PM on September 3, 2010


What I wouldn't give to see a cure in my lifetime.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:30 PM on September 3, 2010


"there's evidence that population growth correlates with infant mortality. When people expect all their children to survive, they have far fewer of them."

We are hard wired to have only just so much tolerance for teenagers.
posted by Xoebe at 2:30 PM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Are we just supposed to hope that a solution to hunger and depletion of resources gets discovered before cancer is cured?


That's when we start colonizing other planets.
posted by From the Fortress at 2:32 PM on September 3, 2010


As long as we're playing what-if games, what if this DID wind up curing all virus-related ills, and what if we found a way to cheaply manufacture this treatment and give it to under-developed countries? How many people die of virus-related illnesses every year, worldwide? How would it effect the planet if all these people lived?

I'm pulling this completely out of my ass here, but my feeling is that war would be a short- to mid-term prospect.

A bump in population absent the food and water and other resources to support it leads to increased conflict. The 1994 massacre in Rwanda, a 90% subsistence farming population, was likely a resource conflict, possibly driven by access to water. Darfur may be the first conflict caused by climate change. Loss of water for subsistence farmers caused one ethnic group to prey on another. I think it would be fair to link the conflict and anarchy in and between Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea to the droughts which start in the the 1990s. Heck, much of Nazi Germany's territorial grabbing was about resources. Hitler had no oil. It drove a lot of his strategy.

In times of drought and famine chimpanzee troupes fight over water holes. We haven't changed much.
posted by bonehead at 2:36 PM on September 3, 2010


> So what's the catch that results in this one coming to nothing?

It also turns subjects into flesh-eating zombies, natch.
posted by Panjandrum at 2:44 PM on September 3, 2010


an article published last month in the scientific journal AIDS Research and Therapy

When I saw this I knew it was probably not an incredibly impressive result. This is a fairly minor journal. Any sort of truly significant advance that would inevitably lead to an AIDS cure I would expect to find in New England Journal of Medicine, The Lancet, or JAMA, or maybe a basic science journal like Science, Nature, or Cell. Maybe a higher prestige specialist journal like AIDS.

I hate to say this because there is a lot of really good research that is not published in these journals, and I think they are fetishized way more than is good for scientific development. But when results that sound like they should be extremely big news are published in lower impact journals the reason is usually because (a) the results aren't really as big as the press releases make them sound, or (b) there are methodological flaws that fell foul of sometimes stricter standards in the more prestigious journals.

Note also that I think there are many scientists who would disagree with my attitude here, and it isn't an absolute, but I have found it a helpful rule of thumb. When reading papers in my own field of expertise, when I start out by wondering why a paper with important-seeming conclusions was not published in a better journal, upon fully reading the paper I usually (not always) understand why.
posted by grouse at 2:48 PM on September 3, 2010 [13 favorites]


I had a longer post, but bleh. I work in a related field, I don't see the methodology so I can't really analyze this, I don't see this in a high profile journal - for a finding that if fully explored would be tier 1 cover article. So, I will put this in the pile of cancer/cold/etc cured articles that university PR departments push out nowadays. If i am wrong I will be very pleasantly surprised. Until then, if you so choose, you can call me the bitter cynic my soon to be ex-wife claims me to be. . . .

have a nice day
posted by oshburghor at 2:52 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, just actually read the thread. Are some you actually suggesting that a hypothetical end to all infectious disease could be a bad thing vis a vis overpopulation leading to some sort of Malthusian crisis? Because I think you may be barking up the wrong tree. The problem with infectious diseases is kind of two-pronged, and I can't see that solving either prong would really lead to the kind of apocalyptic scenario theorized.

Prong 1: Increased morbidity throughout life.
Most IDs don't kill you right away, or at all. Your typical TB or HIV patient may last years depending on severity of disease and treatment. During those years they may have varying levels of productivity or incapacitation. That's kind of the crux of the problem of AIDS in Africa, not so much that massive amounts of people are infected with an incurably deadly disease, but that those people tend to be the core productive group of young adults and middle age people, those that societies depend on to get shit done. Similarly, other IDs might lay you low for only a few days or weeks, or cripple you, or blind you, or otherwise leave you perfectly alive and capable of breeding and sucking up resources, but with reduced capacity to put those resources into good productive labor.

Prong 2: ID has a disproportionate affect on life expectancy (i.e. infant mortality)
Life expectancy is one of those figures that always gets used wrong. A country with a life expectancy of 40, does not have all of its adults dropping dead once they blow out their two score birthday candles. Yes, it does mean the average lifespan of the entire population is 40 years, but low life expectancies are almost always the result of a disproportionate amount of infant mortalities; hordes of babies dying at 3 months old from IDs has a pretty serious effect on overall life expectancy. Now, typically when disease burden decreases, and life expectancy increases, there is a trend towards lower overall birth rates, which means that removing the disease load from a population may result in a short term population boom, but that the growth rate will eventually even out (or decrease, hello Japan!).


So if all IDs were cured tomorrow, we'd throw a big fucking party. And then we'd see a world with more productive adults and less dead babies, and no Malthusian crisis.
posted by Panjandrum at 3:02 PM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


It depends on how you (and Carlin) define "fine." I imagine that when we go, we'll take a lot of other species with us. And we'll also strip-mine the planet of all sorts of resources. I mean, if there's some alien species waiting for us to die so that they can colonize Earth, I doubt we'll leave much for them. We'll be like the guests that take all the toilet paper with them when they leave the Bed and Breakfast.

I define "fine" just as the planet does: on the geologic scale. Homo sapiens' entire existence is no more than an eyeblink to the Earth, and will seem just that significant the next "day", or "week", or "month". Nothing we're likely to be able to do to the Earth will leave it empty a million, ten million, or a hundred million years from now -- extinct species will simply leave room for others which are better adapted to survival on a hot/cold/irradiated/polluted/water-poor/food-poor/insert-condition-humans-can't-survive Earth. Life may look nothing like the way it looks now, but it'll go on.

It's worth noting that we have done things like gather up much of the copper and tin which used to be close to the planet's surface. Another copper or bronze age may never arise... or may have to arise from what was once a landfill, factory, or museum. Non-sentient species don't give a shit about crafting metal tools, though, so they'll be fine. Again, we "intelligent" types are the ones who'll pay. Makes me wonder what the next species up to bat will have for a creation myth... bet it'll make Adam and Eve look like a couple of cautious, far-thinking geniuses.
posted by vorfeed at 3:02 PM on September 3, 2010


Does anyone else sort of tune out when they see "previously" at the end of a post? Especially when the post is written to appear current, emergent and utterly life-changing?

Scientists at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research announced just moments ago the discovery of an inexpensive, universally applicable and unpatentable treatment and cure for all types of carcinoma. The treatment is so basic that it can be synthesized in the home with ingredients found in most kitchens, and right this very second—as you read these words—billions of doses, as well as detailed instructions for the synthesis of more, are being sent to clinics around the world. The discovery has taken the scientific community—indeed, the entire world—by surprise, and at least one researcher burst into immediate tears upon learning of the discovery, its remarkable simplicity, and the fact that such an easy answer was directly under everyone's nose for so long. No one saw this coming. Previously. Previously. Previously. Previously on MeTa. NYT blog post. Boing Boing.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 3:07 PM on September 3, 2010


And yeah, I read this and all previous articles and fully understand the context. It's just Friday, and this is how my brain works. Deal.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 3:08 PM on September 3, 2010


From the Fortress: That's when we start colonizing other planets.

We can get started right after science invents magic!

In all seriousness, I find it amusing that we find it more plausible that we'll find a way to blatantly break the laws of physics than we do that people will start acting in a sensible manner.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:13 PM on September 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Grouse: another possibility is that they thought they were about to get scooped and wanted to speed it through the review process.

I'd be curious to see if this gets picked up by Faculty of 1000 or any of the science blogs. The linked piece is a little press release-y and I'd be interested to hear people get into the meat of the work a little more.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:24 PM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jesus, some people just can't handle good news. We get a post about a potential miracle cure and turn it into the trigger for destruction of the species.
posted by rocket88 at 4:03 PM on September 3, 2010


too bad bill hicks didn't live to see it
posted by sineater at 4:06 PM on September 3, 2010


another possibility is that they thought they were about to get scooped and wanted to speed it through the review process.

The paper was submitted in May and not accepted till August, which doesn't seem like a particularly speedy review process.

I had the same reaction as grouse, which is that a paper in AIDS Research and Therapy is one that is probably important in the field, but something which was really groundbreaking would be in a different journal. I don't know much about virology, but it's in one cell line, they only followed it up for two weeks post-treatment and can't rule out low-level latent virus, and the peptides were at 150um which sounds like a pretty high concentration to be getting into a cell in vivo.
posted by penguinliz at 4:13 PM on September 3, 2010


there were ridiculous amounts of fucking going on in the 70s. [..] this discovery might bring about increased levels of casual fucking


But can we really sustain a world in which there's no more disease -- or even a world in which a few of the major killers are wiped out?


At least I know which party I should attend if this thing pans out.
posted by ryanrs at 9:32 PM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


We can get started right after science invents magic!

Every damn thing I do is magic to someone from 100 years ago. Just fifty years ago, my parents grew up crapping in a hole in the backyard. Today when I take a shit, a Japanese robotic toilet washes my ass. And as I sit there enjoying the warm breeze of the built-in dryer, I know in my heart that my children will one day crap among the stars.
posted by ryanrs at 10:39 PM on September 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wait...if someone has HIV, all their cells are infected. Using this treatment on them would kill them, wouldn't it?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:04 AM on September 4, 2010


I just read the link, and then the "not yet ready for publication" paper.

What the fuck is this garbage?

I would make a metaphor for all the people that wont read the article, but the literal is so much better: they are claiming that they have the cure for aids...but really, no.

I suggest hat everyone read the paper, or skim through it...even if you don't have a science background. You will notice two things:

1. Assumptions. A LOT of them. Their conclusion is based on one assumption which is based on another, which is based on another, which is based on a other, which is based on laboratory conditions which may or may not work in he real world.

2. Check out their references. Even minor details had been published in nature, science, virology, aids, nejm....the big motherfuckers of medicine/science. This study is published in fallback journal. It's because the journals that have published big-deal research know the difference between scientists who claim stuff to get famous, and scientists who do science.

I am so sorry that this is presented as a "zomg, we discovered a cure". But in reality...it's some maybe decent science (where is the methodology???), that is as good as any of the other aids research going on...but presented as cold fusion.

Fuckers...and shame on the journal for accepting this writing as it is, and publicizing it. Aids is a very emotional issue for A LOT of people...and presenting basic science like this is rather unethical because (as seen from the comments in this thread) it makes people believe that the "cure" is right around the corner.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:33 AM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait...if someone has HIV, all their cells are infected.

Where on earth did you get such an idea?
posted by atrazine at 1:57 AM on September 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's because the journals that have published big-deal research know the difference between scientists who claim stuff to get famous, and scientists who do science.

This is too harsh. Having skimmed the article, I don't think there is any indication that this is not "science" or that it contains any unjustified claims. However, I don't think this is a breakthrough result that is worthy of mainstream news.
posted by grouse at 8:29 AM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I approve More Good News in the Fight Against HIV.
posted by vertriebskonzept at 9:26 AM on September 4, 2010


(where is the methodology???)

Pet peave: You mean methods. Methodology is the study of methods. The things researchers did to test their hypotheses are their methods. If they do a research project to determine how often a method works, or how well it works or when it works, in other words if they were studying the methods themselves (e.g. under what conditions to effects observed in cultured cells work similarly in vivo?) then the paper they wrote up would be a methodology paper. The methods they used to answer their methdological research question would still be their methods, not their methdology, however.

Based on a quick skim, this paper looks poorly written, but this is well outside my area so it's hard for me to judge. However, the methods section of the paper seems to start on page 5 with the paragraph beginning "To determine whether the above treatment (combination of INS+INrs and Ro31-8959) indeed results in eradication of the infected virions and termination of the infection process, the following experiment was conducted..." I'll leave it to people who know more about this stuff to judge the adequacy of the methods.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:27 AM on September 4, 2010


Pet peave: You mean methods.
I stand corrected. Thanks.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:39 PM on September 4, 2010


Wait...if someone has HIV, all their cells are infected.

Where on earth did you get such an idea?


Your comment is in the bold.

The comment I previously posted made it clear I wasn't sure about the specifics of HIV infection in the body. So did you want to correct me with how it is, or even provide a link I can read myself, or are you just going to be a snarky a-hole? Because that really doesn't contribute anything to the knowledge here that others may be lacking too.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:46 PM on September 4, 2010


ridiculous amounts of fucking going on in the 70s

This phrase tickles me like crazy, and reminds me of a former boss I had working at a Payday loan place. When he was in the office, my downtime went from the corporate-forbidden Game Boy to the apparently not corporate-forbidden Sex Stories With Ralph. I could pretty much count on hearing about his most recent conquest at the casino, which was gross, but sometimes he'd reminisce about the 70s, which was both gross and fascinating.

Apparently Ralph used to live in Miami, where he and a bunch of his buddies would get an antibiotics shot, pile in a boat, motor over to Cuba, drink and fuck pretty much all weekend, motor back to Florida, another shot, back to work on Monday. For like ten bucks. He would always end these stories by throwing his hands up. "But then, AIDS!" Shaking his head, he'd go back to filing customer records or describing whose mouth his old man balls were in the night prior.
posted by maus at 9:41 PM on September 4, 2010


The comment I previously posted made it clear I wasn't sure about the specifics of HIV infection in the body.

And yet you called a group of HIV researchers "fuckers", and their article "garbage", you implied that they weren't doing real science, and you called for shame on the editors of the journal that published it.

So did you want to correct me with how it is, or even provide a link I can read myself, or are you just going to be a snarky a-hole?

You've got a pretty big fucking mouth for someone who insults people in a field that by your own admission you don't understand a thing about. Your passive-aggressive, whiny, "I was just trying to learn" tone doesn't really jibe with insulting the researchers and the journal. If you don't want to die by the snark sword, don't open yourself up to it by using abusive language about others.
posted by atrazine at 5:15 AM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait...if someone has HIV, all their cells are infected.

HIV is a virus. It reproduces by infecting individual cells, hijacking them, and converting them into HIV factories. This eventually destroys the cell. People develop antibodies to HIV just like they do for any other virus.

HIV, being the bastard that it is, primarily targets the cells in your immune system called CD4 cells. If HIV infects enough of your CD4 cells (hence disabling them), your immune system is weakened and loses the ability to successfully fight off a variety of terrible things including Kaposi's sarcoma, PCP, MAC, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis of the brain... lots of nasty stuff. These are AIDS defining illnesses and mean that HIV has fucked you up enough that you have AIDS. Treatment is good enough now that people can often recover from this stage.

HIV treatment attacks the various mechanisms that HIV uses to infect individual cells in order to hijack them. There are entry inhibitors so it can't get inside the cell, reverse transcriptase inhibitors so HIV can't translate itself into a language that the cell speaks, integrase inhibitors so it can't hijack the cell's DNA, protease inhibitors so HIV can't start factory production inside the hijacked cell, and probably a few other classes I'm forgetting right now. If a person is on successful treatment, HIV can't infect new cells. The immune system recovers to (almost) normal. But HIV is still lurking in a few dormant cells, which wake up occasionally and start factory production again. That's why stopping treatment doesn't work—the whole process starts over again.

This is also why people talk about treatment as a means of preventing new infections. If a person is on successful HIV treatment, HIV activity in their body is very very low. So if you get a sample of their blood, there are very few HIV-infected cells in that sample. This makes that sample much less infectious than a sample from a person with uncontrolled HIV. This is a rather controversial thing. We haven't researched it enough, and the current research indicates that what is true for HIV-levels in blood isn't necessarily true for HIV-levels in semen/vaginal fluids/anal fluids/breastmilk. There are also concerns that it would lead to mandatory treatment for people with HIV, taking personal choice out of the equation, and the side effects from HIV treatment can be really rough.
posted by heatherann at 8:37 AM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


That's also why this:

I think the paper mentions uncertainty about killing off dormant, latent HIV-infected cells of a certain type, but they say they'll follow up on that.

is important. If you can't target the dormant cells, the 'reservoirs' of HIV, then you don't have a cure. They can always wake up and start everything over again.
posted by heatherann at 8:40 AM on September 5, 2010


Thanks heatherann.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:07 AM on September 5, 2010


And yet you called a group of HIV researchers "fuckers", and their article "garbage", you implied that they weren't doing real science, and you called for shame on the editors of the journal that published it.

You've got a pretty big fucking mouth for someone who insults people in a field that by your own admission you don't understand a thing about. Your passive-aggressive, whiny, "I was just trying to learn" tone doesn't really jibe with insulting the researchers and the journal. If you don't want to die by the snark sword, don't open yourself up to it by using abusive language about others.


Atrazine. They totally are fuckers for their garbage paper. I never implied they were doing real science, in fact i said that it was good research at the end of my diatribe. Its just presented in a disingenuous way to gather mainstream news outlets. Anyone who does that really isn't a good scientist, just a fame seeking whore.

Just because i don't understand all facets of HIV doesn't mean i can't easily point out bad science. In fact im sure a lot of people who commented on is thread don't know all the specifics about aids, but i still think their opinions are valid. I don't think science should only be criticized by those in the ivory towers. That's not how science works.

Also, thanks for shitting on this thread without contributing anything of substance towards it except something that looks like a misplaced grudge on the blue.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:27 AM on September 5, 2010


Atrazine. They totally are fuckers for their garbage paper. I never implied they were[sic] doing real science, in fact i said that it was good research at the end of my diatribe. Its just presented in a disingenuous way to gather mainstream news outlets.

So they're fuckers, their paper is garbage, but they are doing good research? Forget about science, you're not even qualified to construct sentences.

Furthermore, calling the researchers fuckers for the way this was presented in the media shows a gross misunderstanding of how research flows from journals to the popular press. They didn't write that article which was probably based on a press release written by the university press office. Even then, the only deceptive part of the article was the headline - written by a sub, not even the journalist who wrote the original article.

Just because i don't understand all facets of HIV doesn't mean i can't easily point out bad science.
Certainly correct, presumably there are other reasons for your inability to do so.

In fact im sure a lot of people who commented on is thread don't know all the specifics about aids, but i still think their opinions are valid.
There is certainly value to the opinion of the layman (I'm not an HIV specialist, a biologist, or even a professional scientist). I'm not under the delusion that my opinion on this is as valuable as that of a specialist. Of course, I also don't go around calling people who do medical research "fuckers" because of some filler dashed out by a journo from the press release pile.

Also, thanks for shitting on this thread without contributing anything of substance towards it except something that looks like a misplaced grudge on the blue.
Well maybe one day I'll be able to rise to your level of contribution. Sneering insults at academics in a field that I don't understand.
posted by atrazine at 2:32 PM on September 5, 2010


hal_c_on: This paper is not "garbage." It's not bad science.
posted by grouse at 4:14 PM on September 5, 2010


I have only skimmed the paper, but don't see any big problems with it. The press release is pretty terrible, even by the standard of the normal tortures that press offices and journalists put science through, but the paper itself just claims Specific eradication of HIV-1 from infected cultured cells, which they do seem to have shown.

They saw a clever method to push infected cells into apoptosis and showed that, in their model, it seems to work well. They also draw attention to the facts that dormant cells might not be caught and that the work is in its early stages and needs further exploration. While I'm not too familar with HIV, the concepts seem plausible based on my background knowledge, and the tests that I'm familiar with seem to have been used correctly. Their formatting of the article is weird (no "Methods" section?), but that's almost certainly a restriction put on them by the journal editors, who police the house rules with an iron fist.

It's not a cure. They don't claim that it's a cure. But if their results are real, it does seem to point to an avenue of attack. It looks like a solid, interesting paper whose claims are founded.

In contrast, if anyone wants to spew vitriol at the press release, I'll fetch the soapbox and bring you a throat lozenge for when you're finished.

For anyone unfamiliar with the "Bench to bedside" progression, there are a huge number of hurdles to overcome after this. Firstly, the effect needs to be real (not just a fluke, mistake or problem with their setup), to work in a wide variety of cell types (one line of cells growing in a lab can be very different from others), to work in vivo (as you'd imagine, your immune cells behave very differently in the complex environment of your body than they do in a plastic dish) and to be deliverable (not too expensive, stable enough to hang around in your bloodstream long enough to work, not too toxic, not provoke and immune response, etc...). This paper shows some very cool results in support of a clever idea for an attack strategy, but the path to get this into a successful clinical treatment is very long and very rocky.
posted by metaBugs at 7:45 AM on September 6, 2010


atrazine, you obviously have something personal going on...either against me or something else. Please take it up via memail if you want to further this, as nothing you said in your last diatribe has anything to do with the subject at hand.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:42 PM on September 8, 2010


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